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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mazel tov! A seriously great movie, Feb. 13 2010
This review is from: A Serious Man (DVD)
I watched A Serious Man and all the accompanying bonus features last night. Fans of the Joel and Ethan Cohen will love this one. I think the thing that I enjoyed the most about it was that I was not familiar with a single one of these actors before. When I watched it, I was able to immerse myself in 1967 and these characters, and believe they were real. Amazing performances by Michael Stuhlbarg et. al. didn't hurt.

A Serious Man is a film about Larry Gopnik, a Jewish man who realizes one day that his life seems to be falling apart. His brother is sleeping on the family's couch and constantly nursing a monstrous (presumably, we never see it) cyst on his neck. His wife is leaving him for a friend of his. His son is smoking pot and signed up for the Columbia Record Club (remember that?) under his name. His daughter is always either washing her hair or out with her friends. Within this setting, innumerable irritants and stumbling blocks fall in his way, usually within the same scene. Jefferson Airplane are the background music to a heap of problems he finds himself in.

All that Larry wants is to make something of his life, and become "a serious man". Confusing advice from Rabbis, a neighbor who seems to tease him by sunbathing topless, a South Korean student offering him bribes, a neighbor encroaching on the property line, and his own faith seem to taunt him at every turn. It's not a complex story, it is character driven, comedic, dramatic and nostalgic all at once. In other words, typical Coen fare.

As is par for the course with Coen films, special features are sparse. There is a brief bit explaining all the Jewish terminology in the film done as entertainingly as possible. There's a great feature on how they made the neighborhood look exactly like 1967, and how they got the cars, costumes and locations. Finally there is a feature with the Coens and actors on the film itself, what it means, and what inspired it.

I particularly enjoyed the short story the opened the movie, some made-up Jewish folklore that the Coens came up with. It is unrelated to the rest of the movie, but is designed to act something like an opening cartoon which used to open movies in the 60's.

Enjoy. 5 stars. I hope it wins Best Picture.
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