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A Serious Man Review Critics


Dave White Profile

A movie mitzvah. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Have I mentioned A Serious Man is so rich and funny? This isn't a laugh-laugh movie, but a wince-wince movie. Those can be funny too.

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  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    What do the Coen brothers want of us? More specifically, what do they want us to think of the repellent people in this pitilessly bleak movie?

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    The always surprising Coen brothers have finally made a very serious movie with A Serious Man. It's about God, man's place in the world and the meaning of life, so naturally it's one of their funnier movies.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A wonderfully odd, bleakly comic and thoroughly engrossing film.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Working with affectionate mockery, the Coens take the cinder-block-synagogue banality of American Jewish life in 1967 and make it look as archly exotic as the loopy Scandinavian-American winterscape of "Fargo."

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  • See all A Serious Man reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Brilliant but bleak comedy for mature Coen brothers fans.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the Coen brothers' A Serious Man features extensive useof marijuana (in some cases by pre-teen boys) and lots of profanity (from "f--k" and "s--t" on down the line). There's some sexual material as well (a distant view of a topless sunbather, a dream-sequence sex scene), and some brief but bloody moments of violence. The movie also offers viewers complex questions to ponder on the subjects of faith and religion.

  • Families can talk about the film's central question: Why do bad things happen to good people? Do our actions have consequences?
  • The film also offers great opportunities for discussion of the natureof religious belief. What questions does the movie raise about faith? Does it provide any answers?
  • What does this movie have in common thematically with the Coen brothers' other movies? What do their films say about the importance of morality and ethics in a world that seems to respect neither?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Amid the movie's acrid humor and mature subject matter is a good deal of food for thought -- if not a constructively positive take-away. The lead character struggles to do the right thing, and his actions have definitive consequences.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The characters here are all fairly flawed -- that makes them realistic, but it doesn't necessarily make them the best role models. The lead character makes an important moral decision and is found wanting; at other times, though, he demonstrates real decency and endeavors to do the right thing.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Some violence, including a stabbing (with blood) in the prologue. There's also a shooting and a beating; these take place in dream sequences but are depicted with vigor and blood. The corpse of a hunted deer is also seen.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A topless sunbather is seen from a distance; a dream sequence includes a sex scene in which a woman is wearing a bra and a man's bare chest is shown. Discussions of sex and infidelity.

  • language false4

    Language: Constant, including "f--k" and its derivatives, "s--t," "a--hole," "pissed," "crap," "oh my God," and "Jesus." "Jew" is used briefly, presumably derogatorily.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink wine and hard liquor and smoke pipes and cigarettes. Marijuana is also smoked -- in some cases by 12-year-old boys -- and discussed extensively.