A Serious Man 2009

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(74) IMDb 7/10
Available in HD
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The Academy Award-winning Coen Brothers direct this thought-provoking drama set in 1967 that centres around a Midwestern professor whose life begins to unravel when his wife sets out to leave him.

Starring:
Michael Stuhlbarg,Richard Kind
Runtime:
1 hour, 45 minutes

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A Serious Man

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind
Supporting actors Fred Melamed, Adam Arkin, Jeff Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff
Studio Focus Features
BBFC rating Suitable for 15 years and over
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. A. Brown on 15 May 2014
Format: DVD
As human beings we like to think we can come up with an explanation for everything that happens in our lives. We like to think there's a reason behind everything - that if we lose our job or our marriage breaks up then it's because we've done something wrong, or it's a curse, or it's part of some grand plan for the universe. The truth is that most of these things simply happen randomly, often through no fault of our own, and trying to find a concrete explanation for them is usually an exercise in confusion.

That's basically what A Serious Man is about and whether you like it or hate it will depend to a large extent on whether that message resonates with you. The film itself is essentially about a normal guy whose life starts to unravel in a variety of different ways. Some of it is played for laughs, but it's far from a laugh a minute comedy. If you're expecting to be in hysterics then this simply isn't the film for you - even if you like the comedy in other Coen brothers films like the Big Lebowski.

Similarly if you want a progressive plot with detailed character development then you won't find that here either. It's a film about a man flailing around in a doomed attempt to understand the random disappointments that crop up in his life. By its very nature there isn't a clear beginning, middle and end because that's not what the film is trying to achieve - you can't make a film about the meaningless of life if it ends in a nice finale that ties up all the loose ends.

Of course, none of that means it's actually any good. I'm usually pretty cynical about films that are used to make a wider philosophical point and fall back on arguments such as "you hated it? well you just didn't get it" whenever someone criticises them.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By haunted on 9 Jun. 2011
Format: DVD
On the face of it "A Serious Man" is a movie showing the life of a forty something Jew Larry Goplik falling apart. His wife announces that she is seeing a much older man and wants a divorce. His teenage children ignore him. He is a professor at a local college and his hopeful of getting tenure. However one of his students is very unhappy with his grades and seems to be threatening to throw a spanner in the works.

He is at his wits end and decides to ask his local rabbi for advice. He eventually sees (or rather tries to see) three different rabbis, with mixed results to say the least.

Like all Coen movies it is brilliantly made and has some great darkly comic moments. You get the feeling the Coens are toying with the viewer though. They hint that great revelations will occur but finish the movie with an ambiguous (but probably appropriate) ending. They also throw in an apparently unrelated opening scene, set in a Jewish village in pre war Poland.

After his Bar Mitzvah Larry's son does one better than his father and meets the most senior rabbi, renowned for his learning and wisdom. After quoting from a "Jefferson Airplane" song the rabbi's main piece of advice is to "be a good boy".

Perhaps that's what the Coen's are saying in this movie. Good and bad things happen in life. There is probably no grand design to it. All you can do is to try "to be a good boy".
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Te Stringer on 21 May 2010
Format: DVD
This film came as a great relief to me... I was seriously convinced that my beloved Coens had lost it altogether. I hadn't really enjoyed one of their films since The Man Who Wasn't There; Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers, Burn After Reading and yes, even the lauded to the high heavens No Country For Old Men all left me cold. This film was the first time in a decade I didn't bother going to the cinema to see a new Coen Brothers film, because I just expected more disappointment. I eventually rented it last week, and it massively exceeded my expectations, being fresh, funny and consistently entertaining.
It tells the story of a middle aged jewish man in the sixties whose life is falling to pieces- his wife is unfaithful, his promotion is being threatened by a disgruntled student who is prepared to resort to bribery and blackmail to attain a passing grade, his son is in love with the counter culture and is more interested in getting high and listening to Jefferson Airplane than preparing for his Bar Mitzvah (and who can blame him!) Desperate for help, he goes to see three Rabbis who, as you'd expect from a Coen Brothers film, run the gamut from a bit weird to colourfully insane.
A lot of the negative reviews here make complaints I can sympathise with; yes, it doesn't go anywhere, it has long, seemingly irrelevant bits, the beginning and ending are both confusing and obtuse and offer no explanation whatsoever; its weird for weirds sake, its pretentious, its elitist arty nonsense, too clever for its own good etc.... often with independent films I find just these kind of things extremely offputting.
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Format: DVD
Here is a movie that is gently hilarious (if that even be conceivable!) but in a loving and usually quite tenderly understated manner. In 1967 the father, Larry, of a middle class Jewish Midwestern (Minneapolis area) family, is an earnest man whom misfortune besets, often to considerable financial as well as personal worry, in terrible but cinematically humourous ways. His run of bad luck sets in at the movie's outset when Larry's wife Judith demands a ritual divorce to marry anew, to his frumpish colleague Sy, who is reputed to be "a serious man" ("really?" the viewer cannot help but to ask himself), but who has been "cattin' around" with Judith. Further along, among much, much else, occurs Larry's son Danny's bar mitzvah, in which the 13 year-old boy participates, in a dazed stupor, while "stoned" on marijuana. So it goes, through a miscellany of merriment (for the viewer, not for Larry) throughout this motion picture, right the very end (as the ever-earnest husband and father is informed that he just may have some dreadful ailment, the nature of which the film does not reveal as it draws thereupon to a very "up-in-the-air" conclusion. Larry's problems are, variously, marital and familial, professional, legal, financial, at times riotously physical, and so on -- and on. Well, at least things never are quite so awful as they are in the nightmares that plague Larry's sleep!

Nothing much of any of this resolves itself. What goes on in the film is to pile one peculiar incongruity upon more of the same for the entire length of it. I suppose that many viewers will find the movie baffling or mystifying. Certainly, it helps to be some kind of, or at least to be some degree of, Jewish to understand all of this, or otherwise to have other familiarity with Jewish culture and folkways.
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