A Serious Man

Rated R 105 minutes 2009

The Coen brothers run Jewish folklore through 1960s middle America by way of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Henry James’ Figure in the Carpet in this precisely executed comedy. Michael Stuhlbarg gives a seamless performance as a professor of subatomic physics whose wife is leaving him for a groovier, hairier, fatter man. Then he finds that his brother is seeing patterns in the abyss, his neighbor to the left is a deer-killing goy, his neighbor to the right is a naked partaker of “the new freedoms,” and a student who cannot grasp math has left hundreds of dollars in an unmarked envelope on his desk. He goes on a quest to find out what it all means, but the wise men he consults keep derailing him with pointless tales of parking lots and teeth. In the end, a distant mass of swirling air threatens to make everything OK, in violation of all that he and his devout community hold dear. A minor masterpiece, A Serious Man takes a small, quiet place among the best of the Coen brothers movies.

Film Credits

Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Producer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Robert Graf

Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus, Amy Landecker, Peter Breitmayer, Brent Braunschweig, David Kang, Benjamin Portnoe, Alan Mandell, George Wyner, Simon Helberg, Adam Arkin and Fyvush Finkel


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