If you’re one that despises black comedy – avoid!
Lead actor Martin Stuhlbarg shines as put-upon country college professor, Larry Gopnik, whose life is slowly imploding in the Twin Cities,1967.
Faced with spiraling personal problems, Gopnik struggles towards righteousness fighting to find inspiration in 1960’s mid-America, where, typically – drugs, vanity, sex and gambling sustains his society. Gopnik also fails to find divine wisdom from Judaism. Each encounter like a great feat of Job interleaved with esoterism that the Coens can weave so well.
The cast were largely unknown to me, except for Richard Kind playing the cyst-draining, odd-ball brother Arthur. Stuhlbarg shines as Gopnik, a man on the edge, desperately flailing from one disaster to the next, unlearning every lesson he has learned.
The only black mark is the ending. In working the audience into the delicate balance of Gopnik’s nerves, the Coens pull the Donnie Darko trigger and get arsey. Viewers watch the coming storm and can only imagine what comes next.
‘A Serious Man’ certainly demands a second viewing. Nominated for Oscars for Best Film and Best Original Screenplay, if there’s a God, a wee golden man for writing should be Coen-bound.