This unusual film, "A Serious Man," written, produced and
directed by the Coen brothers, received mixed reviews from other critics.
It opens with a long scene involving a husband, his wife, and a possible Dybbuk a century ago in Poland. A Dybbuk is a feared living spirit inhabiting the body of a dead person usually associated with evil. The characters speak Yiddish, most of which I understood, but the subtitles helped with the translation. The Dybbuk is played by Fyvush Finkel, a well-known New York actor whom I have met and once joined with in celebrating an event at the old 2nd Avenue Deli in Manhattan. Oh, the good old days.
The movie is about a modern but religious Jewish family living in Minnesota in the late '60s. The father, Michael (Larry Gopnik), is a physics professor at a local college. His wife, Judith (Sari Lennick), is going through a midlife crisis and having an affair with a widower, Sy (Fred Melamed). Michael and Judith have two children: Danny (Aaron Wolff) who is studying for his bar mitzvah, and Sarah (Jessica McManus), a teenager who is the least interesting member of the family. Her major concern appears to be washing her hair. Finally, there is Larry's brother, Uncle Arthur (Richard Kind), who sleeps on the family's sofa. Arthur seems to be mentally unstable and also spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom.