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Scenes add up in Coens’ ‘Serious’

Pic's protagonist stays cool during coffee

Larry Gopnick, the bewildered protagonist in the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man,” thought he had life together. He’s got a steady job as a college mathematics professor, he’s a solid citizen and stays mild-mannered at all times. Then everything begins to unravel. Seemingly isolated incidents — a student offers him a bribe, his neighbor proves to be anti-Semitic, and children are constantly at one another’s throats — all take a back seat when he sits at a coffee shop with his impossible-to-please wife and family friend. The two lay out their adulterous sins to Larry as they openly discuss their affair and ask that he should respectfully move out of the house so they can cohabit with one another. Staying true to form, he takes the news without much pushback. He’s not sure what’s worse: that his wife is unfaithful, or that she’s unfaithful with an older man and king of the schlubs, Sy Abelman!

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