"I've tried to be a serious man, you know? Tried to do right, be a member of the community....Just tell him I need help. Please? I need *help*."Larry Gopnik is at the end of his rope. But, God bless him, he is still hanging on to the last stubborn piece of sanity he's got left in Ethan and Joel Coen's A Serious Man.
Michael Stuhlbarg plays Gopnik, a very average college professor and loving father to two very bratty teenagers and husband to one very unsatisfied wife in the Midwest. He's a good provider, a good teacher, and thought he was doing everything right. Until his wife tells him she's found someone else, a fella even more lowly than Gopnik, and kicks him out of the house. He's told that his tenure is in question at work. He's enjoying many sleepless nights at the local inn with his gambling brother, while still paying mortgage on the house where his wife, their kids, and her boyfriend now live while paying his divorce lawyer fees and, oh yeah, one of his students tries to blackmail him into changing his failing grade. His once average life has now been downgraded to below average and all he wants is for things to return to normal. Gopnik desperately seeks solace by visiting several rabbis in search of any advice to keep him from falling off the edge completely.
Surprisingly entertaining and very relatable, A Serious Man introduces us to several hilarious characters who are each trying to grasp at Gopnik's last nerve (and doing a mighty fine job of that). The real star is Stuhlbarg, whose helpless facial expressions yet determined sanity could only make you laugh...or cry for him.
However, the beginning of the movie was quite disjointed and probably unnecssary, as it didn't feature any of the main characters though you knew it had to be connected somehow. I'm just not certain how. But the rest of the movie makes up for that.
See this movie for a good laugh, and know that no matter what's going on in your life, A Serious Man proves things can certainly get worse.
Reel Talk rating: B