A Serious Man

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The Broadway actor Michael Stuhlbarg gets his big-screen break playing Larry Gopnik, a professor of theoretical physics whose life reaches a menopausal climacteric in mysterious tandem with his son's approaching barmitzvah and the astonishing announcement from his wife Sari Lennick that their marriage is over. She now wishes to divorce and to marry their supercilious acquaintance Sy Ableman, a smug and mellifluous widower played by Fred Melamed. Larry's life becomes unmoored, and in his desperation this not-particularly-religious man becomes convinced that only the local senior rabbi can help him: a very elderly man who has retreated largely into gnomic silence. The movie convincingly brings us into Larry's spacey state, somewhere between shock and trance, and brilliantly suggests that he is on the verge not of a breakdown — nothing so banal — but rather an epiphany, a vision of how he has erred, how he has lived, and what the essence of his life should be as an observant Jew, a righteous person and a serious man.

His best friend Sy Ableman has just stolen Larry Gopnik's companion, and now he comforts him on his loss. Such a man is Larry Gopnik. He lectures on physics in abut of a blackboard filled along with bewildering equations that are accurate proofs approaching certainty, and all the rage his own life, what be able to be sure of? Nothing, that's what. His wife is departure him for his best acquaintance. His son is listening en route for rock 'n' roll in Hebrew school. His daughter is appropriation money for a nose activity. His brother-in-law is sleeping arrange the sofa and lurking all the rage unsavory bars.

Joe Queenan on weird one-offs after that the directors who make them Directed by the Coen brothers — or David Lynch? Besiege on all fronts — conjugally, professionally, medically — Larry Gopnik, a dorky physics professor who may be about to be beaten his job and is actual likely to lose his ancestor, is a bright, principled Jewish man whose children have begged him to fix the aerial so they can watch F Troop, an idiotic s clown. With his khakis, his short-sleeved shirts, his nerdy glasses, after that his stereotypically inconsequential name, Gopnik is clearly not a Surrealistic Pillow kind of guy. A long time ago on the roof, Gopnik spies a sultry, mysterious, not appallingly classy next-door neighbour sunbathing bare in the privacy of her fenced-in backyard. She is a stoner and looks nothing akin to his wife, who is a propos to divorce him. The building, the locale, the attire, after that the way the scene is shot capture majestically the air of spiritual desolation and common weirdness that defined suburban US life in the 60s. It evokes the opening scenes as of The Straight Story, the big screen about a year-old man who drives a lawn mower miles across Iowa to see his dying brother, with whom he fell out decades earlier. At the same time as I took in the astonishing rooftop sequence in this troubling but rewarding movie, I forgot who had really made it and thought: Gee, I by no means knew David Lynch was Jewish.

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