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Fargo (1996)

  Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Written by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand
Links: Fargo on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 10.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Fargo (1996) is also mentioned in mino's review of Barton Fink (1991), citizenjoe's review of Intolerable Cruelty (2003), pearly's review of Spider (2002), em_fiction's review of The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) and mino's review of The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).

"Yah, oh yah." - a review by pearly

When I was younger, I was a know-nothing idiot. I didn't like movies. I didn't like movies, because I thought that movies were just things like that same crud that Hollywood churns out for the kids every other week. I didn't really get the point of it all. But, upon figuring out that there was an alternative to the popular drivel, I was a convert. Can't get enough nowadays, and Fargo was one of the films that converted me.

When I was in uni, a bunch of us used to go to the cinema for a tightarse Tuesday film each week. mino was one of these. Each week, we'd argue over what the best film to see would be, and sometimes it worked out in my favour (like when we saw Elizabeth (1998) and I fell in love with Cate Blanchett (as an actor)), and sometimes it didn't (like when we saw Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998), and I got very mad). When Fargo came out, I was probably already well on my way towards being into the kinds of films that I like now (for want of a better word, indie), but when I finally rented Fargo from the local video store, it was a defining moment in my movie viewing life, for sure.

At the beginning of the film, there are words which pop up on screen that say that the following story is all true. It's a joke which I didn't get for some time, both because I'm naive, and because I'm too lazy to check into things. Recently, I saw a program about a young Japanese woman who went missing from Tokyo, and was found dead near Fargo. The rumour went that she was looking for the money from this very film. Whether or not this is true is somewhat of a grey area also, but at least the program finally revealed to me what I hadn't hunted out for myself: Fargo is not based on a true story, so there's no point going hunting for any missing money. Glad that one's cleared up.

In the film, a man named Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), frustrated with his lot in life, hatches a plan to organise for his wife to be kidnapped, in order to get some money from his father-in-law, a rich guy who is also Jerry's boss. The man that Jerry hires is Carl (Steve Buscemi), who has a stupid side-kick. Unsurprisingly, things go terribly wrong, and after a couple of deaths, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is sent in to investigate the case.

There is a little bit of everything in Fargo, and it's all well balanced. In among the suspense and drama there is a delightful black comedy pumping through its veins, mostly in the characters of the kidnappers, but also due to the hilarious (to me, anyway) accent of Marge. All of the performances are brilliant, but McDormand steals the show as the pregnant cop who knows what she's doing at all stages of proceedings.

As well as this, the visuals are beautiful, and the whole thing is shot in a dreamy way which adds so much to the story. Fargo is a special film, and one which holds an extra special place in my heart. Definitely one of Ethan Coen and Joel Coen's biggest masterpieces.

pearly gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 15 Apr 2005

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Reader comments

  1. Surely this commenting thing is broken, otherwise we'd have spam all over the darned place.

    A comment from Nic on Wed 03 May 2017 14:50 #


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