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Scouting ‘A Serious Man’

The Coen Brothers scoured the Midwest to find the perfect place to play the place where they grew up in their latest film, ‘A Serious Man‘. The story of physics professor Larry Gopnik and his family, the film is set in 1967, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, in an intellectual Jewish household similar to the one the Coens grew up in — and it’s gotten rave reviews, including praise as the directing duo’s most mature film yet.


Recreating the place where they grew up wasn’t an easy task, since many Minnesota neighborhoods have been razed, paved and rebuilt since the ’60s. They finally found the suitably retro block they were looking for in Bloomington, on Fourth Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. Even then, the production crew landscaped lawns, added false chimneys and trimmings scoured from neighborhood homes, like decorative brickwork and doors. Even the streets and driveways we resurfaced to get that perfect ’60s charm, reports the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
Among the locations in the film are the Cooper’s Supervalu supermarket (633 7th St W, St Paul, Minnesota; 651-699-3530) and the B’Nai Emet Synagogue (3115 Ottawa Ave. S., St. Louis Park, Minnesota; 952-927-7309), which hosts the film’s Bar Mitzvah and funeral scenes. The Normandale Community College (9700 France Avenue South, Bloomington; 952-487-8200) in Bloomington lent offices, library and science labs to the film, while St. Olaf College (1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, Minnesota; 507-786-2222) also stood in for the college where the film’s main character works.
Not only does the film look like the Brother’s hometown, it sounds like it too. The film is filled with local talent found in an open call at the Sabes Jewish Community Center. It’s quite a contrast from their last effort, ‘Burn After Reading‘, which featured an ensemble cast of Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney, John Malkovich and Tilda Swinton.
image: Michael Stuhlbarg stars as Larry Gopnik in writer/directors Joel & Ethan Coen’s 1967-set A Serious Man, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Focus Features.

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