A Serious Man (2009) is a English,Yiddish,Hebrew movie. Ethan Coen,Joel Coen has directed this movie. Michael Stuhlbarg,Richard Kind,Sari Lennick,Fred Melamed are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2009. A Serious Man (2009) is considered one of the best Comedy,Drama movie in India and around the world.
Bloomington, Minnesota, 1967: Jewish physics lecturer Larry Gopnik is a serious and a very put-upon man. His daughter is stealing from him to save up for a nose job, his pot-head son, who gets stoned at his own bar-mitzvah, only wants him round to fix the TV aerial and his useless brother Arthur is an unwelcome house guest. But both Arthur and Larry get turfed out into a motel when Larry's wife Judy, who wants a divorce, moves her lover, Sy, into the house and even after Sy's death in a car crash they are still there. With lawyers' bills mounting for his divorce, Arthur's criminal court appearances and a land feud with a neighbour Larry is tempted to take the bribe offered by a student to give him an illegal exam pass mark. And the rabbis he visits for advice only dole out platitudes. Still God moves in mysterious - and not always pleasant - ways, as Larry and his family will find out.
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So nu? Who understands this "Schroedinger's Cat"?
****SPOILER ALERT****** Several reviewers have commented on physics representing logical certainty. In this movie, the opposite is true, and I believe that is the fulcrum upon which this modern story of Job rests. Modern physics strikes at the very heart of faith, mystery and law The dybbuk! The husband is caught in the world of the material and cannot believe that the rabbi before him is a spirit, but his wife...she is not fooled! She believes that the world is filled with mysteries, and her faith in this leads to decisive action--saving them?? "Schroedinger's Cat" is a modern mystery, and it is the single subject that Larry is teaching in his physics class. "Bracket k bracket and it is equal," he says with finality, thinking that he has demonstrated the order of the world neatly. But "Schroedinger's Cat" is the ultimate expression of the rules of order, or G-d's work, leading off the cliff into the abyss of mystery. In the example Schroedinger published in 1935, a cat is in a box with a "diabolical apparatus" which kills the cat if a random subatomic particle decays. Modern physics, being invented at the time, made the absurd prediction that until you opened the lid to check, the cat was in some sort of blurred probability space of being alive/dead, and it only became actually dead (or alive) when you opened the lid to check. Observation changed reality. The cat is in a mysterious state, beyond our comprehension or belief until we look. Do we have faith? Einstein didn't. He countered stating that "G-d doesn't play dice with the universe!" Schroedinger was doubtful, but insisted that the mystery was simply inescapable. This is the foundation for a rich allegory, indeed. "I don't understand the mathematics, but I understand the stories," Larry's Korean student insists. "No, if you don't understand the math, you don't understand the physics. Even I sometimes don't understand the stories," Larry shoots back. And in this lies the nub of the tale. Larry understands the rules--and follows them. His life is dreary and takes a seeming nose dive. Plague after plague arise and he is perplexed. One rabbi says "We all question the existence of hashem ("his name" = G-d) and then we see the wonder in...the parking lot." HE GETS IT!! For him it is faith. Even the friggin' parking lot is a divine miracle! The next rabbi weaves a deeply mystical tale with a banal ending. Larry is outraged. "What does it mean?" "How do I know. G-d does't owe us an explanation. The responsibility is the other way around," the rabbi responds. They each have their own understanding and advise. The young rabbi is not yet wise and advises faith. The next rabbi acknowledges mystery, but says it is beyond us to understand, so be a good person, "or a better person." "God doesn't owe us an explanation. The responsibility runs the other way." It soon becomes clear that the Korean student and his father have a razor-sharp understanding of the "Schroedinger's Cat" story and thrust the paradox into Larry's life with a vengeance. If only Larry understood the paradox. But he understands logic and rules. His faith is shaky, but he follows the rules. Sy doesn't believe a G-d is watching him, steals his friends wife, and G-d strikes him down in his path. Even Larry's brother, believes in a crazy half-physics, half-Kaballah mystery and he actually wins card games with it, but he breaks the rules and is a pariah. The last rabbi will not even talk to him. The most direct response of G- d being questioned by a doubting subject. At the end, Larry feels he is through his trial and "opens the box" to check to see if there is a G-d there. Surprise! There is! He opened the box by breaking the rules. The cat is dead. All his plagues had only been in some sort of blurred probability space of having happened/not happened; his marriage, his tenure the whole chain of events. It was not until he tested G-d by breaking a rule that the very real G-d of the bible smote him and his eldest son down. The original Job had actual punishments and kept his faith. Our modern Job has existential punishments and ends with a lack of faith. We must have faith, recognize the mysteries or obey the law according to our capacity, but to do none of these is an abomination.
One of their best
My wife and I saw the film last Friday. We talked about it for an hour over dinner and again in the evening. The more we discussed it the better we liked it. It helps to be familiar with the paradox of Schrodinger's cat, a staple of quantum physics, which can be found on Wikipedia, before you go see this film. You might also want to understand the quantum concept of duality. The entire movie examines Gopnick and his world==and to a lesser extent that of his teenage son--in light of these aspects of quantum mechanics. I could not find a single scene that did not address uncertainty and/or duality. The attempt to discern traditional religious meaning in this world is humorous in itself. The opening presents the paradox and is crucial to the rest of the film. Unlike the local review for the film which described this as a "typical Coen Brothers film" and "weird" and "no closure at the end", I found this film to be quite literal and true to the principles of uncertainty and duality. The two major characters both find closure, and in retrospect, there is clearly a beginning, middle and end to the story the brothers wanted to tell. But the movie continues after the closure, just as life continues on a daily basis, setting up another expectation of continual uncertainty. Not being Jewish, I no doubt missed some of the double entendre and humor in the tradition. I would have liked to understand the Hebrew passage of the bar mitzvah ceremony, for example, and how it relates to the core theme of the film. But the movie is universal in its appeal, if you understand the basic concept of quantum mechanics upon which the film is based. I rate this as one of their best films due to its intellectual foundation. Much more important to me than No Country.
I don't understand it so I will dismiss it as worthless and return to the familiar.
I can see why many people would dismiss this. Like the reviewer who watched "52 minutes" and turned it off because none of the characters were likable so it would be a waste of time to continue. Those who expect life to be a series of plausible outcomes, logically following some kind of cause and effect order are always disappointed by honest works of art, not to mention life itself. One of the very themes of this film are those kinds of people and their need to cling to some sort of tradition, structure, and belief in order to deny their fear. Another theme was perspective and perception. That what may seem mundane and meaningless may be filled with the most profound meaning and that which we place so much value in may be worth absolutely nothing. "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you." If you can enjoy a movie that leaves you with questions as much as one that attempts to provide answers then I highly recommend a viewing.
Natural and excellent next step for the Coens' cerebral probing of life's toughest questions
The Coen brothers have developed critical acclaim for making black comedies/awkward tragedies that depict small-time people getting in way over their heads, who for one reason or another are motivated to do things out of the ordinary because the natural order of the world and society has wronged them in some way. "A Serious Man," however, is about a man who doesn't do anything, to whom bad/annoying things happen. This story of a confused suburban Jewish man in the '60s wrestling with life's meaning is therefore an important step in the evolution of the Coens' theme-driven film-making. Borrowing on an autobiographical context (Minnesota, Judaism, etc.) for the brothers, it moves on to greater cosmic questions but with the same quirky and ironic spirit that have garnered the Coens all their deserved attention over the last 20 years. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is that one Coen brothers character in every movie -- you know, the innocent one who manages to suffer a seemingly unfair fate (think Steve Buscemi in "The Big Lebowski" or most recently Richard Jenkins' character in "Burn After Reading") -- only he gets to pilot this film. In that spirit, an unknown Stuhlbarg is cast in the lead (although he was clearly up for the challenge). Larry is a mild-mannered math professor with a family in an ideal suburban home only his wife wants a divorce and his kids are nightmarish. Little by little the annoyances of his life pile up from the foreign student trying to bribe him for a passing grade while simultaneously suing him for defamation to his socially immature brother (Richard Kind) who won't leave his house. Larry seeks answers from the rabbis in his community to understand the mess his life has suddenly become. One rabbi tells him he needs a change of perspective, another tells him the story of "The Goy's Teeth," a hilarious bit about a dentist who tries desperately to make meaning of a Hebrew message engraved in a patient's teeth only to find he was better off not worrying about it. None of their advice seems to help at the time -- but it's dead on. The Goy's Teeth scene in particular is one of the brilliant moments where the Coen brothers let you know pretty clearly what their intentions are with the film while giving you something to laugh about. That's their strength and it's all over "Serious Man." Much like "Burn After Reading," this film is one that makes a thematic point out of the audience's attempt to squeeze meaning out of everything. By turning Larry into a Job-like figure to whom inexplicable misfortune happens, we're forced to put everything into perspective. When Kind's character, Arthur, has a tantrum in the middle of the night wondering why God has given him nothing and he points out that Larry has kids and a job, suddenly our perspective changes. Suddenly everything we thought mattered in this film and was of critical importance is really not such a big deal. Our desperate search for answers in both our lives and in this film, our tendency to over-analyze and derive reason from everything comes to a halt; the Coen bros. have worked their magic again. "Serious Man" is one of their best in recent memory because it not only feels rooted and personal for them, but it moves toward a greater discussion of previously treaded upon themes and plots from their previous work. It is a challenging film and those who have struggled with the Coen brothers before will struggle again, but for the cerebral and intellectual moviegoer it's outstanding. The truth is, we don't have all the answers to make sense of life's events (or a story's plot points) and neither do the Coen brothers. One insignificant character in the film who appears to have an answer to just one of Larry's myriad of minor problems dies instantly with hysterical irony. Don't go into "A Serious Man" looking for answers, go into it looking for a change of perspective. ~Steven C Visit my site at http://moviemusereviews.blogspot.com
A Torture Chamber for Losing Time
The only thing fairly remarkable or remotely intriguing about this film is the opening wherein a Yiddish-speaking Jew of the 19th century invites (accidentally) a dybbuk (evil spirit in the shape of a man) into his family home. The ominous turn of events and the wife's sensible solution to the situation is comical and you would think the film would build on such an interesting prologue. Alas, like reading the Book of Job without the good parts (namely the philosophical arguments and the poetry, let alone a resolution), A Serious Man feels like an exercise in viewing torture. (What is it about 2009? The Road and A Serious Man both belong in the category of 'agonizing to watch...). Maybe the brilliance of this film lies in that you think at any minute this honest, good, hard-working Jewish man will crack and finally take on the world that is besetting him as opposed to questioning G-d. But for much of the film, our lead character, Larry Gopnik, a professor, husband, father of two, brother of socially-inept Adam, there is little here that happens, let alone satisfies a viewing audience. It has been awhile before I watched a film wherein I continually battled with myself over whether I should continue or simply walk away. I wanted to walk away... What made this film the most unbearable is how each periphery character rarely ever showed their humanity - Larry's Son and Daughter are simply cretins, the former a typical high school student with bully problems and marijuana indulgence (also he orders records of the month and leaves the bill for his father) while his daughter's only needs in life seem to be her hair and going out. There is no dimension to either of them while their mother, Larry's wife is a loveless shrew that remarkably makes Larry pay for his rival's funeral, an arrogant friend of the family named Sy. Throughout the first half of the film, Sy and Larry's wife are in love, working on Larry to get a kosher divorce. After awhile, I lost sympathy for the lead, not because of his wife and family, but because he had wandered into a cinematic world lacking humanity, let alone real people. The Coens have not crafted a movie, let alone a film but an alternate universe, a torture chamber of bland direction and characterization. It has been awhile since I watched a film where I felt I despised so many characters. Ideally, supporting characters are there to create relationships, to reveal the complexity of human life. It seems everyone here is just another means to stab the lead and bludgeon him with their inane presence. Even the rabbi who refuses to talk to him feels less like a person as opposed to a forced story development. If you were the kid in school who didn't torture earth worms or pull butterfly wings off Monarchs, then you might not like this debacle, another pseudo-film from the Coen Brothers.