Larry Gopnik

No Country For Old (Or Young) Rabbis

Three suburban spiritual leaders strike out on big questions in new Coen Brothers satire.

09/30/2009
Staff Writer

Michael Stuhlberg as the Job-like Larry Gopnik in “A Serious Man.”At the center of Joel and Ethan Coen’s new film, “A Serious Man,” which opens on Friday, is a very weighty matter. A Jewish physics professor, Larry Gopnik, faces a string of woes — his wife leaves him for a colleague; he accidentally kills that colleague in a car crash; his brother shows up, homeless, looking for a place to stay; and so on. Why him? To answer the question, the Coen’s send Larry to three rabbis, each one promising the answer to his eternal question.

That quest for enlightenment is a bit what it’s like interviewing the Coens. A brigade of publicists courts you weeks in advance, each new e-mail enticing you for the next: the first one promises you the interview;
the second that the interview will be in person. In subsequent e-mails you learn the day, time, place, and finally receive one last note: arrive early, you have only 15 minutes.

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