A Serious Man
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
That poor Larry Gopnick. His wife is leaving him for his best friend. His daughter is stealing money from him to pay for a nose job. His son is stealing money from his daughter to pay for weed and listening to Jefferson Airplane in Hebrew school. His leach of a brother spends hours in the bathroom draining a cyst.
One of his students may have bribed him to improve a grade on an exam. The student’s father may be suing him for accepting a bribe. Someone is writing libelous letters to the college in an effort to foil his bid for tenure. On top of bills from his divorce lawyer and his brother’s doctor, he’s been slapped with a $400 fee from the Columbia Record Club, of which he is not a member. He finds some semblance of solace in his beautiful neighbor, but she’s definitely the type of woman he would avoid if he knows what’s best for him. God only knows how those X-rays will come back.
Why is all of this happening? Why poor Larry? Why now, and why all at once? Is it something he did? Karma perhaps? Could it be because one of his ancestors allowed a dybbuck (A dead man’s lost soul) into his home? Could it be that someone upstairs just has it in for him? He keeps saying “I didn’t do anything,” which may or may not be the answer to all of his problems.
The Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man”, a reenactment of the book of Job set in a quiet Jewish neighborhood in Minneapolis, is about a man’s painful search for answers that aren’t there, about how we try to prove our worth to fate rather than to ourselves. It won’t likely play at any nearby theaters, but I hope you take the time to seek it out. It is a tough pill to swallow, but it is also one of the year’s very best films.
November 20, 2009
Originally Featured in the Nelson Gazette