A Serious Man (2009)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
December 6, 2014

A Serious Man (2009)
Plot: Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern mathematics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking.
Plot Keywords: jewish - house - divorce - nose job - lawyer
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick
Genres: Comedy - Drama
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA):
Rated R for language, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence
Awards: Nomination for best picture of the year [2009]
Country: USA - UK - France
Language: English - Yiddish - Hebrew
Release Date: November 20, 2009 (UK)
Also Known As: Un hombre serio
Filming Locations: Uptown Vision Clinic, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Company Credits:
Production Co: Focus Features, StudioCanal, Relativity Media
Technical Specs:
Runtime: 106 min
Sound Mix: DTS - Dolby Digital - SDDS
Color: Color

I recently saw an interview with the Coen brothers discussing A SERIOUS MAN, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Never once in that interview did the brothers mention that the film is a modern day version of the story of Job, including a conclusion featuring a tornado, called a "whirlwind" [S'ARAH in Biblical Hebrew; TORNADO in modern Hebrew] in the King James translation. In fact, they said that the story has no plot but is just a series of ever increasing unpleasant events in the life of the protagonist, Larry Gopnik.

Not only that. The film actually begins with an 8 minute vignette which takes place in a 19th century SHTETL, the dialog completely in Yiddish, describing a married couple's confrontation with a dybbuk. This opening vignette appears to have no relation to the rest of the movie. The Coens told the interviewer that this 8 minute opening is merely comparable to the cartoons that used to proceed the movie in the olden days, and that it has no connection to the story of The Serious Man. I doubt that. It has at least one major connection that I can see. Both the story of the married couple and the dybbuk, and the story of Larry Gopnik are themed with intense Jewishness.

Before any screen credits appear, there is a quote from RASHI* which reads, "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you". RASHI is a medieval French Rabbi. [More about him below.] One reviewer [|Glenn Whipp @ http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/04/entertainment/ca-coens4] interprets RASHI's admonition as "Just accept the mystery" of what life offers you, no matter how bad or how good. And indeed Jews have struggled with the idea of RASHA VE TOV LO - TSADIK VE RA LO, Why does evil befall the righteous people while prosperity happens to the evil ones?

The book of Job itself seems to reach a denoument with the very message. Job inquires of God the source of all his misery. "What have I done to deserve this?", he asks. And God answers with what seems to be a non-sequitur: "Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?" It is the finality of Don't ask and I won't tell.

Not only that. But the liturgy of the YOM KIPPUR MUSAF contains the terrible story of the TEN MARTYRS FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF GOD'S NAME.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Martyrs]
The Ten Martyrs (ASERET HARUGEI MALCHUT) were ten rabbis living during the era of the Mishnah who were martyred by the Romans in the period after the destruction of the second Temple... This dramatic poem (known as the ELEH EZKERA) is recited on YOM KIPPUR and a similar story is read on TISHA B'AV to elicit the proper mood of the day, one of reflection and the hope of redemption in the face of attacks to the beliefs of Judaism. The death of the martyrs is described as being gruesome, including allegedly being wrapped in TORAH scrolls and then being set aflame.

" ... a loud and bitter cry which shook the heavens and earth... The angels said to God, “Is this the TORAH and is this its reward?” ?” God replied, “It has been decreed and there is nobody to annul it.” A voice came out from Heaven and said, “If I hear any more cries I will return the whole universe to chaos and emptiness”. [Translation at http://www.torahlab.org/download/rs_eicha_book_f1.pdf].

Over the years, when Jews ask, "Why the Inquisition? Why the SHOAH?", this story, read twice a year in SHUL, reminds them that there is no answer since God does not disclose any. Maybe in recent years, Paul Simon said it best: "God only knows; God makes His plan; The information’s unavailable to the mortal man" - SLIP SLIDIN’ AWAY.

I have seen this marvelous film three times and each time, I get something new out of it, and I enjoy it much more than the last.

A Serious Man is set in suburban Minneapolis in 1967. Larry Gopnik is a happy man. His son is about to be BAR MITZVAH, and his college is on the verge of granting him tenure as a teacher of physics. Larry thinks of himself as a moral Jew, or as the movie calls it, a serious man. And at the very moment when this middle aged midWestern Jew is about to realize the rewards of his achievement as family man and professional academic, what can only be described as Divine Plagues strike him to his core:

.His wife, Judith, has taken up with another man, a widower named Sy and she wants Larry to give her a GET, a Jewish religious divorce.
.Their son, Danny, owes the school bully money for marijuana which he is hard pressed to find.
.Larry expects his hoped for tenure, and his department head informs him that anonymous letters have urged the committee to deny him.
. Clive Park, a Korean student whom Larry is failing meets with Larry in his office to argue he needs to pass in order to receive a scholarship to university, and upon  leaving Larry's office, he leaves an envelope stuffed with cash. When Larry attempts to return it, Clive's father threatens to sue Larry either for defamation if Larry accuses Clive of bribery, or for keeping the money if he does not give him a passing grade.
. Larry has to move out of his home to a nearby motel.
.Judith empties the couple's bank accounts, leaving Larry penniless.
.Larry and Sy are involved in separate, simultaneous car crashes. Larry is unharmed, but Sy is killed. Judith insists that Larry pay for Sy's funeral, and he does so.
.The mail brings a large bill from Arthur's criminal lawyer. Arthur is Larry's brother and has been arrested for gambling.
.Larry's doctor calls, asking to see him immediately about the negative results of a chest X-ray;
.At that very moment, Danny and the other students at the high school watch hopelessly as a massive tornado bears down on the school.

To cope with his streak of unfortunate circumstances, Larry turns to his Jewish faith in the hopes that he will find solace from all of his devastating circumstances. But the two rabbis he consults (Rabbi Nachtner and Rabbi Scott) are obtuse, oblivious and obscure, muttering useless banalities, and his synagogue's senior rabbi, Marshak, is never available.

On the day of Danny's BAR MITSVAH, during which he has read from the TORAH while being stoned on pot, he meets with Marshak in his office. The ludicrousness of the scene is higlighted by the fact that this old, withdrawn, Eastern European Jew can name every member of the Jefferson Airplane, and quotes almost verbatim, their song, "Somebody to Love".

More ludicrousness:
While seeking serious advice for his oh so serious dilemmas, Rabbi Nachtner [the literal meaning of his name, Darkener] launches into the story of "The Goy's Teeth".

There is a certain orthodontist that Larry and Nachtner both know. One day he is creating a plaster mold for one of his patients, a gentile. When the mold dries, the orthodontist examines it, and he sees something engraved on the inside of the patient's lower incisors. HE VAV SHIN YUD AYIN NUN YUD. "HWSHY 'NY". "Save me!" This in a GOY's mouth! The orthodontist is so troubled by this that his whole life is disrupted. He goes to see Rabbi Nachtner. He asks Nachtner, "What does it mean, Rabbi? Is it a sign from HASHEM, 'Save me'? What should I be doing? Maybe I'm supposed to help people generally, lead a more righteous life? Is the answer in the QABALLAH? In the TORAH? Or is there even a question? Tell me, Rabbi, what can such a sign mean?"

Rabbi Nachtner replies, "The teeth, we don't know. A sign from HASHEM? Don't know. Helping others? Couldn't hurt. We can't know everything.

Larry is nonplussed! Nachtner has not helped him one whit with this inane tale. "Rabbi ...I want an answer!"
Rabbi Nachtner: "Sure! We all want the answer! But HASHEM doesn't owe us the answer, Larry. HASHEM doesn't owe us anything. The obligation runs the other way."
Larry: Why does He make us feel the questions if He's not gonna give us any answers?
Rabbi Nachtner: He hasn't told me.
Larry Gopnik: And what happened to the GOY?
Rabbi Nachtner: The GOY? Who cares?

Not only does Larry find it hard to "Just accept the mystery". No, the empathetic audience also feels a bit betrayed. Oh we moderns of little faith! But should this surprise us, knowing the Coen brothers, having seen the insanity of FARGO and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN?

And in the end? Perhaps Larry's problems will seem trivial [Did I just say "trivial"?] as the final scene shows a tornado [King James Bible "whirlwind"] descending upon the town. We see it approaching with devastating force but before we can even see the destruction it will bring, the scene fades out and the end titles begin.

At least in our scripture's tale of Job, which leads to the end of the story, the tornado carries the voice of HASHEM telling Job that despite his woes and his unanswered questions, his life will be restored and all that he has lost will be restored to him double.

HASHEM restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before ... HASHEM blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters ... So Job died, being old and full of days.
Book of Job, chapter 42

What? HASHEM treated the GOY, Job, better in the end than poor Larry, the Serious Man, the Moral Jew?

Since the film ends before we can see the final outcome, we have no other option than to think that the whirlwind attacking Larry's town will demolish it. In the book of Job, the protagonist gets a chance to pray for the wellbeing of his friends. Here, Larry's misfortune spreads out to affect all of his neighbors.

The film's genre is described as both a drama and a comedy. That reminds me of a quip that I often heard my mother say [in Yiddish]: MEN LAKHT FIN TSURIS. Sometimes even tragedy causes us to laugh. After all, what else can we do?

Gilad Atzmon, in his review of the film [http://www.rense.com/general89/film.htm] points out that:

The People of the Book consistently fail to detect when something is going horribly wrong. They somehow fail to anticipate the storm that is coming or brace themselves for its devastating impact. They fail to interpret some minor signs of resentment before it turns into a tide of hatred. And even when they do manage to notice a rise in antagonism, they somehow employ the wrong strategy to placate it. As we often read, Jewish ethnic campaigners and institutions (ADL, AJC, BOD etc') are always flagging up statistics, they prefer to present numbers of 'anti Semitic' incidents instead of wondering why these incidents occur in the first place.

Be aware, if you choose to read the whole review, Atzmon comes across as a left wing Jew highly critical of MEDINAT YISRAEL.


The Coen brothers are perhaps one of America's most favorite film makers. We love their celluloid tales. Some reviewers have said that A SERIOUS MAN is THE Jewish film that they have always wanted to make. Others detect some self-directed antisemitism in the film. Watching the brothers being interviewed, they do not come across as self-hating Jews. In fact, they project an air of Jewish pride. You can check Google but I haven't heard anything Jewishly negative about them.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, who reviews the film for AISH, [http://www.aish.com/j/as/63956022.html], has this to say:
Stay until the very end of all the credits at the conclusion of the Coen brothers new movie, A Serious Man, and you'll see something I'm certain has never been done before in the history of Hollywood cinema. Viewers are reassured that, "No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture." Unfortunately the statement is a blatant lie. The harmed victims run the gamut from rabbis to God all of whom are mercilessly mocked in what is purported to be a modern day retelling of the biblical book of Job.

After all, AISH is a serious Orthodox periodical and website. What else would you expect? Orthodox Jews like their Evangelic Christian brothers find very little in religion to laugh at. That is, unless they are stand-up comics like me. I do not see any antisemitism in the film and certainly not any BLATANT antisemitism. Believe me. I am adept at sniffing out antipathy towards the Jewish People and I see here only farce and the self derogating humor that only members of the tribe are allowed to spout to each other. What about Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and Jackie mason? Well maybe Rabbi Bleich would find their humor antisemitic as well.

A SERIOUS MAN is a film, the script of which, contains so many untranslated Hebrew and Yiddish words that the DVD had to include a glossary to help the non-Jewish world out.

The story takes place in the midWest during the summer of 1967.
What typifies the midWest in the minds of Americans aside from corn fields and tornados?
The Coen brothers themselves hail from the midWest. There is something funny about seeing a story about Jewish midWesterners. We like to think of American Jews as being either from the East Coast or the West Coast. Jews in the Middle come across to America, even Jews in America, as somewhat incongruous. But Jews DO live in Middle America although their future outside of major areas of Jewish concentration [Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Memphis [YES, I said Memphis which has a large Orthodox population] seems uncertain. And the Coen brothers are very much children of the 1960s. It is no surprise that they chose the midWest as a setting for the story.


1967 was a wonderful year for America for many reasons. The music, the drugs, the Sexual Revolution, Civil Rights. Each of these is highlighted in the film from the songs of the Jefferson Airplane to the fantasy scenes of Larry having outrageously funny sex with one of his neighbors to the scene where Danny reads from the TORAH in a state of canibus bliss.

But 1967 was also a landmark year for the Jewish People. Remember, the movie takes place during the SUMMER of that year and still there is not one mention of the Six Day War which changed both Israel and the worldwide Jewish People in as much of a positive dynamic way as the SHOAH did in a negative way.

I am tempted to believe that bringing in the War would have been a distraction from the story of A SERIOUS MAN. After all, the Six Day War was such a positive event for Jews while the movie is nothing but negative.

Well the Coen brothers had to create 1967, and it was not easy.
Aside from a lack of computers and cell phones, nothing typifies the era more than automobiles. Cars symbolize the era. There are few colored cars but there are Station Wagons. My God! I haven't seen one of those for years. I miss all that wood.
In 1967, homes had one car garages so in location filming, where most homes now have two car garages, those had to be CGIed to turn them into one car garages.
Suburbs are famous for their trees. But many suburban areas in the 1950s and 1960s were new and trees were just being planted. Therefore CGI was also used to blank out most trees in the movie.
The clothing, hair styles, speech, and mannerisms are flawless in presenting 1967 to the audience.

I'm sure there is much more to say about A SERIOUS MAN but I have already said a lot, maybe too much. So I'll just end by saying that if you have not already seen the film, rent it now. If you are Jewish, you will love it. But most sophisticated gentiles will also get a kick out of it. Even with all the Jewishness, there is a sense of universalism, of common human suffering, of common emotional impotence in the face of unanswerable questions about sadness and tragedy that unites all of us children of God.

  Born in Troyes, Champagne, France on February 16, 1040
  Died on July 6, 1105

Shlomo Yitzhaki or Isaacides and better known by the acronym RASHI (Hebrew: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki), was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the TANAKH (Hebrew Bible). He is considered the "father" of all commentaries that followed on the Talmud and the TANAKH.
Acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of the text in a concise yet lucid fashion, RASHI appeals to both learned
scholars and beginning students, and his works remain a centerpiece of contemporary Jewish study.  

“Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you’ is RASHI's gloss on Deuteronomy 18:13, “Be wholehearted with HASHEM, your God.’ To be wholehearted, “There shall not be found among you anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire, a soothsayer, a diviner of [auspicious] times, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer … For whoever does these things is an abomination to HASHEM ’

Steven Menashi, in his review of the movie [http://theamericanscene.com/2009/10/09/Some+Thoughts+on+A+Serious+Man], writes:
"Actually, there is a soothsayer around Larry. His brother Arthur has compiled something called “The Mentaculus,’ a series of equations that form “a probability map of the universe.’ Judging from Arthur´s success at cards, it actually does predict the future." But Arthur's gambling causes him to be arrested for gambling after repeated warnings from the police.

Did You Know?

Two actors in this movie portrayed notorious gambler/mobster Arnold Rothstein in other works: Michael Stuhlbarg in "Boardwalk Empire" and Michael Lerner in "Eight Men Out".
The Coen Brothers stated that the opening scene was nothing more than a little short that they made up to get the audience in the proper mood, and that there is no meaning behind it.
In his argument with the Columbia House records employee over the phone, Larry Gopnik repeatedly rejects the album Abraxas by Santana. Abraxas is a Gnostic term for God, particularly a God who encompasses all things from Creator of the Universe to the Devil, and an etymological root for "abracadabra". It is thus implied that Larry Gopnik is vehemently rejecting mysticism, pantheism, and magic.
Most of the doorposts throughout the movie (including the Gopniks' and Mrs. Samsky's) have a small box attached to them. This is a mezuzah, a case containing passages from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21), which Jews traditionally affix to the door frames of their houses as a constant reminder of God's presence. A mezuzah also functions as a sign that a Jewish person occupies the house or works in the building onto which it is affixed, so in this movie, the frequent sight of mezuzahs on doorframes is one of many indications that most of the characters are Jewish.
The names of the characters who ride the school bus with Danny Gopnik are the names of children that the Coen brothers grew up with.
Sy Ableman says mathematics is "the art of the possible", a paraphrase of a quote by Otto von Bismarck, who called politics "the art of the possible".
Tyson Bidner, the film's location manager, was cast as the MAGBIAH, the one who lifts the TORAH, at Danny's bar mitzvah because he had been one in real life. He said the Torah scroll was very heavy and difficult to lift above his head.
At his Bar Mitzvah, Danny reads a "PARSHAH" or portion of the Torah scroll known as "BEHAR" (Leviticus 25:1 - 26:2) which details the events of the Jubilee year, including the release of slaves and return of ancestral lands. Because the reading of Torah portions follow a set yearly cycle, this means that Danny's Bar Mitzvah occurred in early May of 1967. Of course this explains why there is no mention of the Six Day War which broke out in early June of 1967.
The synagogue used for filming was B'nai Emet in the Coen brothers' home town of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where they went to synagogue.
The criminal lawyer that Larry is told to go to, Ron Meshbesher, is actually a local lawyer in Minneapolis. He is of the firm Meshbesher and Spence. The address that is on the retainer envelope at the end of the movie is their actual downtown address.
The song heard on the record played repeatedly in the Gopniks' house is DEM MILNERS TRERN ("The Miller's Tears") by Sidor Belarsky, a Yiddish folk song of a sad miller's fears of growing old and alone, echoing the film's theme.
The tornado bearing down on the town at the climax is a factual event. There was a tornado outbreak in Southern Minnesota, 1967. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the film's use of the tornado to correspond to the whirlwind in the book of Job.
In PARSHA cycle - which reads through the five-books of the bible over the course of the Jewish year - Danny's Bar Mitzvah PARSHA, "BEHAR", is followed by "BECHUKOTAI" (Leviticus 26:3-27:34). While BEHAR discusses the Jubilee Year - the emancipation of slaves and the return of lands to their ancestral heirs - BECHUKOTAI is chiefly known for the verses of Admonition, which warn of the punishments to be endured by those who disobey God. Among other things, the Admonition promises exile, the loss of family and attack by enemies and faint-heartedness - fates suffered by Larry Gopnik. In most years, the two PARSHAHs are read on the same day. Because 1967 coincided with a "Jewish Leap" year - with an extra month before Passover - reading of BECHUKOTAI would have been delayed to the following week. Much like Larry Gopnik's travails, the fearful Admonitions would be delayed but not escaped.
Shlomoh's note: The Admonitions read in Leviticus 20:14-46, called TOCHECHA in Hebrew, contain horrible curses to be visited upon the people of Israel if they disobey HASHEM's commandments. They are so terrible that the one who reads them must read them in an undertone and very quickly so as to get to the end of them.

Rabbi Marshak tells Danny "When the truth is found to be lies, and all the hope within you dies." The lyric in "Somebody to Love" is actually "...all the joy within you dies".
The MEZUZAH (a Scriptural passage usually enclosed in a small container, attached to the door of a Jewish home) affixed to the doorpost of the Sansky house, Larry Gopnik's neighbor, is on the left side of the entrance and tilted towards the outside. Mezuzahs are traditionally affixed to the right side of the entrance and tilt towards the house
While Rabbi Nachtner is talking to Larry and telling him the story of the goy's teeth, he is drinking Lipton Green Tea. Lipton Green Tea was not available in 1967.
One of the albums sent by the Columbia Record Club was "Cosmo's Factory", a CCR album released in 1970, not 1967.
The school buses are painted yellow and black. During that time and into the 1970's Minnesota was one of two states (Nebraska was the other) that used orange and black for all school buses. It was only much later that they joined the more universal yellow and black color scheme.
When the son is studying for his Bar Mitzvah using an LP, the cover of a famous LP of Cantor Joseph Rosenblatt is shown. This record was in actuality a re-issue of Rosenblatt's famous cantorial recordings on the Victor label in the early 20th century, and not what the boy is listening to.
The small television set that Danny is watching during the middle of the film is a 13" RCA XL-100 from the late-1970's.
On the bookshelf in the background in two separate scenes appears a set of the blue volumes of the Encyclopedia Judaica. The EJ was first published in 1971.
In all or most of the driving scenes, yellow center lane dividing lines are shown. Yellow lines did not appear in the center of U.S. roads until the 1970's.
Larry and his wife use the term "blame game," which wasn't in use in 1967.
Larry tells the feds that they are sitting SHIVA over Sy Ableman. "Sitting SHIVA" is done only by the seven relatives which are: father, mother, brother, sister, spouse, son or daughter. And since they are not one of the seven relatives they aren't supposed to be sitting SHIVA.
When Rabbi Marshak lists the members of Jefferson Airplane, he omits Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden, who were also in the band at that time.
Larry Gopnik teaches at a suburban college, but all of the mail he receives in his office is addressed to the zip code 55401. This zip code is in downtown Minneapolis, not the suburbs.
In the event of a tornado warning in suburban Minneapolis, air raid sirens would have been activated to notify everyone to take shelter.
Danny is called up as MAFTIR, the last reader for that weekly TORAH portion. However, what he actually reads is the beginning of PARASHAT BEHAR, which is read by the first reader, not the last. The first reader would typically be a "KOHEN", a descendant of Aaron, the High Priest and brother of Moses. In light of their family name, it is reasonable to assume that the Coen brothers are themselves "KOHANIM".

Shtetl Husband: What a marvel... what a marvel.
Rabbi Scott: I too have had the feeling of losing track of HASHEM, which is the problem here. I too have forgotten how to see Him in the world. And when that happens you think, well, if I can't see Him, He isn't there any more, He's gone. But that's not the case. You just need to remember how to see Him. Am I right? I mean, the parking lot here. Not much to see. It is a different angle on the same parking lot we saw from the Hebrew school window. But if you imagine yourself a visitor, somebody who isn't familiar with these... autos and such... somebody still with a capacity for wonder... Someone with a fresh... perspective. That's what it is, Larry.
Larry Gopnik: The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term.
Sy Ableman: I'm a serious man, Larry. I fucked your wife, Larry! I seriously fucked her!

Crazy Credits:
At the end of the credits is a line advising that "No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture."

Machine Gun Written by Jimi Hendrix Performed by Jimi Hendrix Courtesy of Experience Hendrix LLC/Geffen Records Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Somebody to Love Written by Darby Slick Performed by Jefferson Airplane Courtesy of The RCA Records Label By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Comin' Back to Me Written by Marty Balin Performed by Jefferson Airplane Courtesy of The RCA Records Label By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Dem Milners Trern Written by Mark Warschafsky (as Mark Warshavsky) Performed by Sidor Belarsky Courtesy of Isabel Belarsky
F-Troop Theme from F Troop (1965) Written by William Lava & Irving Taylor Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment
3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds Written by Marty Balin Performed by Jefferson Airplane Courtesy of The RCA Records Label By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Today Written by Marty Balin & Paul Kantner Performed by Jefferson Airplane Courtesy of The RCA Records Label By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Machine Gun Written by Jimi Hendrix Performed by Jimi Hendrix Courtesy of Experience Hendrix LLC/Geffen Records Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Good Times Written by Paul Applebaum (as P. Applebaum) Performed by Art of Lovin' Courtesy of Mainstream/Hunnypot Unlimited By arrangement with Evergreen/ICG

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Is "A Serious Man" based on a book?
Q: What's up with the dybbuk scene?
Q: Where can I get the script?
Q: How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?

Message Boards:
Recent Posts:
I turned this off after the first scene. - tomsriv2001
The Coen's most underrated - MovieDude1893
You have to be a Jew to get it... - bobb328
Help me, save me: I didn't get it! - grizzly228
Someone explain the opening scene please? - leobourne

Discuss A Serious Man (2009) on the IMDb message boards

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Stuhlbarg  ... Larry Gopnik
Richard Kind ... Uncle Arthur
Fred Melamed ... Sy Ableman
Sari Lennick ... Judith Gopnik
Aaron Wolff       ... Danny Gopnik
Jessica McManus ... Sarah Gopnik
Peter Breitmayer   ... Mr. Brandt
Brent Braunschweig ... Mitch Brandt
David Kang       ... Clive Park
Benjamin Portnoe ... Danny's Reefer Buddy
Jack Swiler       ... Boy on Bus
Andrew S. Lentz ... Cursing Boy on Bus
Jon Kaminski Jr. ... Mike Fagle
Ari Hoptman       ... Arlen Finkle
Alan Mandell ... Rabbi Marshak
George Wyner       ... Rabbi Nachtner
Simon Helberg      ... Rabbi Scott

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