Viewed – 21 March 2010 Blu-ray
The redux review
Larry Gopnik is a Jewish professor of physics whose life seems to be gradually falling apart at the seams. His wife is having an affair that she is so blaze about that she and her lover convince Larry to move out of the house. He is also being blackmailed by a student who didn’t agree with a grade he was given, and in the middle of all this he is trying to figure out how to put his life back on track by visiting various Rabbis.
Coming from film making siblings Joel & Ethan Coen, I jumped onto this as soon as it was released, and was expecting another masterpiece to rival the likes of O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Big LeBowski. Now I might add I have watched this twice, and on first impressions, it wasn’t something I liked at all. Even now I’m not sure if it’s something I’d hurry to recommend, but I can also see what the Coen’s were going for – a tale of one man’s ordinary life where bad things happen and he looks for an answer to it all, be it either consulting with friends or Rabbis. Yet ultimately it’s about how one deals with such events and whether you let it ruin you, or you rise above it.
Michael Stuhlbarg is a revelation as the awkward, spineless Larry who allows people to talk to him like a five-year old, his wife and her lover belittle him, and all the time he tries to remain nice. It’s funny, in an awkward, uncomfortable way, and with a wealth of oddball characters that scream ‘Coen’ this is very much the siblings doing what they do best – but ultimately, it’s also a movie that for some, may be an acquired taste.
Verdict: 3 /5