The Coen Brothers‘ A Serious Man is very comparable to Alexander Payne’s masterwork Election, which just happens to be one of my favorite films of all time. Both films are brilliant dark comedies about teachers who are trying to do their best, trying to do the right thing, and somewhere along the way, make one small bad decision which spirals out of control into the biggest mess you’ve ever seen.
A Serious Man is set in 1967, and centers on Larry Gopnick (Michael Stuhlbarg) a midwestern professor who is faced with divorce, and all the consequences that may bring to his Jewish family, which includes a son prepping for Bar Mitzvah while evading bullies at school, a daughter, and his crazy gambling brother who keeps getting into more trouble. Larry seeks answers from three local rabbi, none of which are able to give him any advice he believes to be of value. And things only get worse, because they certainly aren’t getting any better.
A Serious Man is my favorite Coen Brothers film produced in the last decade, the exact period of time since Ethan and Joel created the comedy cult classic The Big Lewbowski. It is not only a brilliant dark comedy which will have you laughing out loud, but a masterful character study filled with great performances, of a family in crisis, the moral decisions they face, and the horribly funny consequences that result. The ending will have you talking about the movie well after leaving the theater, which to me is one of the definitions of great cinema.
/Film Rating: 9 out of 10