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St. Olaf gets 'Serious'

By David Gonnerman '90
October 9, 2008

Production has begun on A Serious Man, a new film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen -- Academy Award winners for No Country for Old Men and Fargo. The film is being shot on a variety of locations throughout Minnesota, including St. Olaf College. The brothers and their crew will spend a day filming in the college's old Science Center in October.

Ethan (left) and Joel Coen on the set of their most recently released film, Burn After Reading.
According to the production comedy, A Serious Man is a comedy about an ordinary man's search for clarity in his confused universe. The year is 1967 and Larry Gopnik (played by Tony Award nominee Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor at a "quiet Midwestern university," has just learned that his wife is leaving him for one of his colleagues. Larry?s unemployable brother is sleeping on the couch, his son is a discipline problem at Hebrew school and his daughter is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job.

Meanwhile, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry's chances for tenure at the university. On top of that, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three rabbis to help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person -- a mensch -- a serious man.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or