Gopnik’s irritating meekness is most obvious in his parenting. All rights reserved. "I haven't done anything," and "What's going on?" We then cut forward to our main story of Larry Gopnik and his son Danny (Aaron Wolff). The first, Rabbi Scott (Simon Helberg), offers him a platitude about finding God in a parking lot (a joke that will be darkly comic at the film's conclusion). Did Larry deserve all the other bad things that "happened" to him? "I don't even understand the fable myself," he remarks on Schrodinger's Cat, showing us that Larry fails to comprehend the story of paradoxes and finds mathematical certainty far more comforting. At the very same moment, a tornado moves in the direction of Danny’s Hebrew school. It's the one about the Jewish dentist who discovers the words "help me" naturally occurring in Hebrew on the back of a gentile's lower front teeth. Velvel (Allen Lewis Rickman) and his wife Dora (Yelena Shmulenson) are Jews living in a shtetl (a small town with a large Jewish population). Another of Gopnik’s constant refrains is, “I haven’t done anything.” After his wife announces that she wants a divorce: “What have I done? “A Serious Man” is, like its biblical source, a distilled, hyperbolic account of the human condition. So are the Coens just being nihilists? Instead of sheepishly appealing to the logical impossibility of ghosts, as her husband does, or passively waiting to see what comes next, as Gopnik would, she takes matters into her own hands. A Serious Man is a 2009 black comedy-drama film written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.Set in 1967, the film stars Michael Stuhlbarg as a Minnesota Jewish man whose life crumbles both professionally and personally, leading him to questions about his faith. What does the ending mean?None of this is to suggest that A Serious Man isn’t primarily about questions and unknowability. By Ned Resnikoff. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. 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. It's a film that revels in its paradoxes because those paradoxes illustrate what it means to be Jewish right from the opening parable about the dybbuk. I believe it acts as a parable reflecting the film, Gopnik's life, and indeed the Book of Job. Tell me, since you are so well-informed!” The standard interpretation is that Job can’t possibly understand the complexity of God’s decision-making, and that it’s presumptuous for us mortals to even try. You don’t have to like it, of course.” When Gopnik complains to the second rabbi, Nachtner, that he just wants “an answer,” Nachtner reprimands: “The answer! But the moral contract we Jews have with God is not one of reward but of wrath. As the saying goes, Job’s patience is difficult to try; but the biblical character is actually quick to air his grievances. He resides in Atlanta with his wife and their dog Jack. Become a fan of Slate on Facebook. But after watching the film a second time—it’s just been released on DVD—it seems worthwhile to revisit some of the questions it raises. The film's epigraph quotes the Rashi, a medieval French rabbi who wrote extensively on the Talmud (books of Jewish law) and the Tanakh (the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures including the Torah), "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you," and then we get the parable of the dybbuk, a tone-setting prologue that refuses to be received with simplicity. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. A Serious Man is a 2009 black comedy-drama film written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.Set in 1967, the film stars Michael Stuhlbarg as a Minnesota Jewish man whose life crumbles both professionally and personally, leading him to questions about his faith. “The troubles surrounding Larry Gopnik in suburban Minnesota many generations later can only be seen as the revenge of ‘Hashem,’ ” writes Denby. There's no secret meaning, no answer in the goy's teeth. There is a story told in "A Serious Man" that may seem out of place. And, notably, both of these movies are about (and in some sense for) Jews. We've been trying to work our way through most of the nominees, and last night was A Serious Man. Somewhere in the Old Country, a husband announces to his wife that Traitle Groshkover is coming over for soup. Larry is not a man of faith; far from it, Larry is a man looking for the math. A Serious Man, also in contention this year, is a more unusual choice—even allowing for the fact that its creators, the Coen brothers, have slipped difficult fare into the proceedings before. "Good riddance to evil.". And when God makes an appearance at the end, it’s to belittle Job for complaining. I heard the movie paralleled the Book of Job the way Gopnik loses everything. (Satan bets he won’t; God bets he will.) A Serious Man (Coen Brothers, 2009) This is one of the richest, deepest, saddest, most mysterious movies ever made. Maybe the bad news is something Larry can recover from. 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Arguably Joel and Ethan Coen's most oblique movie since Barton Fink, A Serious Man is also the brothers' most straightforward examination of their Jewish upbringing and how it crashes up against their American roots. Arguably, the point of A Serious Man is to create confusion. If bad things are happening to him, there must be an explanation, so he seeks out three local rabbis for help. A Serious Man, also in contention this year, is a more unusual choice—even allowing for the fact that its creators, the Coen brothers, have slipped difficult fare into the proceedings before. But, intellectually at least, he knows that’s the case. In the biblical story, God delivers his lecture “out of the whirlwind,” then softens up and gives Job “double what he had before.” It’s a Hollywood ending. God is not accountable to us in the way that Christians can ask for personal forgiveness from Jesus. It is a philosophical and dramatic masterpiece, and interpreting it completely is an impossible challenge. There is nothing godly about Larry Gopnik or his family other than going through the motions of Judaism. 5. An Ongoing Investigation, Stop Everything & Watch Taylor Swift Duet with Bon Iver on "Exile" for Her Disney+ Doc, 'The Sneider Cut' Ep. As Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) spends the film looking for answers, we are shown that God is not accountable to us for our personal misfortunes, but as the final scene demonstrates, we are still accountable to God. I believe it acts as a parable reflecting the film, Gopnik's life, and indeed the Book of Job. Maybe. The punch line is a little different, but you know the joke. Larry Gopnik, the film’s sad-sack protagonist, asks “What’s going on?” no fewer than seven times, by my count.
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