(US); 1996; Rated R; 98 Minutes
William H. Macy: Jerry Lundegaard
Steve Buscemi: Carl Showalter
Peter Stormare: Gaear Grimsrud
Kristin Rudrud: Jean Lundegaard
Harve Presnell: Wade Gustafson
Tony Denman: Scotty Lundegaard
Francis McDormand: Marge
Produced by Tim Bevan,
John Cameron, Ethan Coen and Eric Fellner; Directed by
Joel Coen; Screenwritten by Joel Coen and Ethan
by DAVID KEYES
"A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere."
-Tagline from "Fargo"
...And a lot can happen in 93 minutes. "Fargo" is perhaps
one of the most prolific, involving, and curiously fascinating
films that has ever been made. It combines a sheer energy
of satire, comedy and thriller that it seems at first glance
an impossible movie to make. But the infamous Coen brothers
have taken the risks and succeeded, for "Fargo" is undoubtedly
a masterpiece of everything within it. It's not often when
movies combine so many different aspects of film, and it's
not often that the strength put out by these combinations
succeeds at such a positive level of potency. From beginning
to end, it is a roller-coaster ride of satire, humor, fright,
intrigue, and ultimately, pure entertainment.
story represents something difficult for me as a critic.
How do I describe it to you without spoiling anything? After
all, every step of the way, the movie offers a glimpse of
intense and surprising plot twists. So, my maneuvering plan
for this is to simply tell the premise, and nothing more.
If you are so unfortunate to have not seen the movie, see
it. You'll be glad you did.
this: the heartland, in the middle of a cold, frigid winter.
It's the area of the country where the people talk with
obvious heartland accents, and people still walk around
proclaiming "Aw geeze" whenever there's trouble.
local car dealer struggling for money enters a bar and seats
himself at a table containing two others. One man is 'funny-looking,'
and the other is grim, pale and stone-faced. The character
is Jerry Lundegaard, played by the very reputable William
H. Macy, and he is here to give these guys the opportunity
of a lifetime. If they kidnap his wife and hold her for
ransom, they get a very reasonable wage, while Jerry gets
to make off with the extra cash, which he seems to think
will come straight out of his father-in-law's pocket. Have
I lost ya yet?
the boys carry out this disastrous deed much to the surprise
of Jerry, and after his father-in-law learns this, Jerry
tells him that the kidnappers have requested a large ransom
for his daughter; otherwise the family will never see her
again. In truth, the kidnappers only get a portion of this
money. Jerry himself plans to make off with the rest of
it for his struggling car dealership.
the road, the kidnappers are pulled over by a cop who questions
them on the failure to put up the license plate tickets
on the back window for the new car. In the back seat, tied
in a sack, is Mrs. Lundegaard, who, when she makes a noise,
then hears gunshots go off. The kidnappers not only have
kidnapping to add to their criminal record, but the murders
of a cop and two innocent people who pass by as they carry
out the crime.
I'm afraid, is all I can describe. The movie is so complex
and involving that it would be a shame to reveal anything
else. It's heart is purely within the story, from the first
moment you feast your eyes on that cold snow till the last
minute you see a television shut off.
the story is not simply the only strong point. The performances
of William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and Francis McDormand
are absolute gentle miracles. Macy's Jerry Lundegaard character
is obviously a desperate, confused man who crumbles under
pressure, and Buscemi's character is a foul-mouthed, naive
shrimp of a kidnapper who couldn't go ten seconds without
talking about sex or money. These performances are portrayed
like you would expect them to be in real life, and are undoubtedly
made for these actors, as you can tell by comparing them
to nearly every other role you've seen them in.
the movie belongs to Francis McDormand. She portrays the
sheriff Marge, who is investigating the whole crime just
as it unfolds. The morning after the murders, she enters
the scene of the crime and is able to reconstruct the incident
exactly as it happened, all by little pieces of evidence
left here and there. Her ambition and ability to solve these
complicated crimes astounds the officers around her, since,
after all, most of them share a certain amount of dimwittedness
between each other. Their lack of experience and potential
backs up in the shadows and allows McDormand's to sneak
out of the shadows. Meaning, while the other police officers
fade, McDormand sticks around with the will power to solve
this whole crime.
just sort of sneaks up on you. With the situation and the
whole concept, you can never predict what will happen, and
because of this, it never gets boring, nor too complicated.
That's the appeal to this Coen brothers movie; the fact
that it combines so many different genres and never manages
to get predictable. If that doesn't sound like the work
of a cinematic genius to you, then I'd like to see you do
most strange thing about the movie, however, is not the
internal content. At the beginning of the picture, the Coen
brothers leave a notice telling us that this film is based
on truth. But long after the movie had been released, they
admitted that this tag at the opening of the movie was merely
false; made up, to be specific. I personally don't have
any problem with them doing this, but it seems kind of pointless
in doing so. It's a movie, for crying out loud! Half the
stuff based on truth people don't take seriously, anyways.
Plus, it seems kind of like a slap in the face to the residents
of the heartland who know their history and obviously know
that something like this did not occur in their neck of
what does the average heartlandean have to say about this
false accusation? "Aw geez!"
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.