A Serious Man

dir. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

A Serious Man

dir. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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A timid physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) in 1960s Minnesota finds his life crumbling around him, in Joel and Ethan Coen's hilarious, brilliant, and unfairly neglected modern-day take on the story of Job.

In 1967 Minnesota, physics professor Larry Gopnick's (Michael Stuhlbarg) life is falling apart. His daughter is stealing money to fund her plastic surgery; his son is an underachieving pothead; his layabout live-in brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is slipping further away from reality; his bid for tenure is being undermined by a campaign of anonymous, denunciatory letters; and his wife has just informed him that she is divorcing him to live with her widowed lover, and proceeds to both kick him out of his own house and empty their joint bank accounts. Seeking guidance, Larry visits a number of local rabbis (who offer varying degrees of useless advice), while his lawyer bills skyrocket. Perhaps the Coens' most personal film, as well as their most overlooked and underrated, the brilliant A Serious Man sees the brothers revisiting their childhood stomping grounds and their often sublimated Jewish identity in the form of a hilarious, modern-day take on the story of Job; Larry's slow, almost disbelieving bewilderment at the trials that beset him is both hilarious and poignant.