Larry Gopnik, the lead character in the Coen brothers’ bleak new movie, “A Serious Man”, lives the life of Job. His wife, ready to shack up with their recently-widowed neighbor, has demanded a divorce; his tenure request at work (he’s a college physics professor) looks like it might be denied; his deeply depressed, unemployed brother, who’s been sleeping on the sofa for who-knows-how-long, is in trouble with the law… and that’s not even half of it. We wonder how Larry is able to survive a single day in his topsy-turvy life, let alone a week, a month, a year; worries just keep piling up like latkes on a platter.
And that, more than anything else, is the problem with the film. The Coen brothers lay on the tsuris, or woe, with a trowel. Michael Stuhlbarg as the bewildered and bespectacled Larry is excellent, but we were left wondering where the brothers’ funny bone went; it certainly wasn’t on display here — at least, not nearly often enough.
FILM REVIEW by Stuart R. Brynien