A Serious Man
Written and directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Screening at from 20th November
Lawrence (Larry) Gopnik is a perfect citizen. He teaches science at university,
is married, has two children (Danny and Sarah) and lives in a middle class
suburb, nice houses, cut green lawn. It is 1967 somewhere in USA.
Before we get to know all this there is a sequence in Yiddish tells an
old fable. First I thought I was in the wrong film, having seen the advertisements
for it but in the end everything makes sense.
What seems to be the perfect middle class family turns out to be the
opposite:Larry’s brother - who is a genius but socially inept -
stays with the family, causing tension. He also gets in trouble with the
authorities, because he doesn’t know the laws and rules of society.
Larry's wife Judith wants a divorce, as she and Sy Ableman - an old friend
of the Gopniks - want to be together. If that wasn’t enough, someone
sends anonymous letters to discredit Gopnik, one of his students tries
to bribe and blackmail him, his son smokes pot and his daughter is obsessed
with looking good.
When Judith asks him to leave the house and live in a motel with his
brother, things are going from very bad to extremely bad. He is haunted
by nightmares and gets into more and more financial trouble, as he has
to pay for all the legal advice. Gopnik goes from one Rabbi to another
but no one can help him.Throughout the film he tries to “remind”
himself and others that he is “a serious man”; he can’t
understand why all of this has to happen to him.
It is a film about the 1960s in the USA, how life was life for a middle
class family living far from San Francisco, no flowers in their hair in
sight. But it is also a film about life itself, in the end, things that
were important in the beginning are not important or far less than before.
What is important in life? That is the question this film asks.
As it says in the beginning of the film:” "Receive with simplicity
all the things that happen to you.” (Rashi, a Jewish scolar in the
It sounds Buddhist and you should be cool, calm and collected, but sometimes
it is very hard not to despair, as this brilliant film and his brilliant
hero Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) show.