4 stars, (R)

Writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen focus on an ordinary man in 1967 America who feels like his life is falling apart and desperately seeks answers. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) has just been informed by his wife Judith (Sari Lennick) that she is leaving him. Meanwhile, his unemployed brother Arthur (Richard Kind) sleeps on the couch and his kids (Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus) have their own set of problems. Larry could be any of us, which is why the film works. As usual, the Coen brothers make daily life look like a warped, garish carnival. As usual, the joke is on us. But this time, the Coens appear to include themselves in the "us," which adds an extra dimension to the film. A Serious Man is painful, funny and, at times, painfully funny. 105 minutes.

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