Fargo (1996)

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THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

Approaching the finale of FX 10-episode limited series, Fargo, I set my sight back to the root.  To the 1996 Oscar winning film written, produced, directed, and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen a.k.a The Coen Brothers,  entitled Fargo I refer.

Fargo is a Minnesotan crime thriller that goes so cold and frosty that it turns hilarious. At first, with characters like the pathetic Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy, so desperately amazing!), the twitchy Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi, described on screen as “a funny guy”), and the taciturn Grimsrud (Peter Stormare, cold and silent), it’s hard to take this film seriously. Lost in blizzards of ‘yah‘, ‘heck‘, ‘jeez‘, and ‘you betcha‘ words, Fargo is visibly frivolous—given the thought of “based on actual event” opening.

In flash, serious omens come along with kidnapping and murder ignited by Jerry’s ominous plan to kidnap his own wife. Simply saying, everything that can go wrong, do go wrong in Fargo—that’s how the story goes more serious and intricating. Summoning Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson, a pregnant local police chief, Fargo gets a true heroine—that wins Oscar for ‘Best Lead Actress‘—to complete the impeccably-ridiculously hilarious plot.

Jerry’s plan to abduct his own wife is proven ill-prepared. The money he’s craving for suddenly comes out nowhere, when his father-in-law, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell) signs for fake investment he offers. Ridiculously, Jerry is unable to undo the abduction due to his own failure to trackback the abductors he hires. Meanwhile, the abduction goes ridiculously wrong—Carl and Grimsrud kill 3 innocent persons by perforce. Things won’t go easy on them because Marge, introduced within the second act, is persistent in investigating this random act of crime.

All in all, Fargo is a bittersweet tale of money that japes the audiences for the whole duration. It begins with a “based on an actual event”, proceeded with a complicated, knotty plot, fueled with witty oddballs, and then, it ends with an ordinary “This movie is fictional…” clause—playing fool on everyone. It’s beautifully filmed with suspense and freezing Minneapolis—borrowing the town of Fargo, only for the title—thanks to DoP Roger Deakins.

I find slight similarity in Fargo that reminds me to other Coen Brothers’ crime films—No Country For Old Man, most notably. Even, the villainous Grimsrud and Carl might manifest in Anton Chigurh. Buscemi and Stormare almost successfully steal the screen; Buscemi talks the talk, Stormare walks the walk. William H. Macy is also hilarious—portraying a lame, doomed man with rotten plans. Yet, the star of this film is obviously Frances McDormand—saving the plot. McDormand’s radiant performance is charming and enchanting although she’s only given two-third of the duration to shine—thanks to earthy complex characterization and perfect accent!

To wrap up everything, I must say that Fargo is a witty crime engulfing violence and black comedy that will be long remembered. Combining complex plot with complex characterizations and perfect casts, Fargo is. The late Roger Ebert once said that films like Fargo is why he loved the movie; quite a reason to put the quirky Fargo on the top of your watchlist.

Fargo (1996)

Crime, Comedy, Drama Running Time: 97 mins Directed by: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen Written by: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen Starred by: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Harve Presnell, Peter Stormare, John Carroll Lynch


5 responses to “Fargo (1996)”

  1. Akbar Saputra Avatar
    Akbar Saputra

    And demolishing a body into woodchipper… so violent it lingers in me for days.

    1. Paskalis Damar AK Avatar
      Paskalis Damar AK

      Rumour has it the murder actually happened somewhere in Minnesotta zzz
      I also another Woodchippin “murder” in Tucker and Dale vs Evil

  2. kutukamus Avatar

    The daily-kinda-way dialog talking about the not-so-daily-kinda-way plan is quite good in a number of aspects. Good acts. And well delivered—crime can happen anytime, anywhere, and just about by anybody (even idiots). A rare American movie. 🙂

    1. Paskalis Damar AK Avatar
      Paskalis Damar AK

      i find it surprising that Fargo the series makes good effort in delivering the nuance of the original film 🙂 also a rare series based on a rare film

  3. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2015) | sinekdoks

    […] who seeks for escapes through treasure hunts.  She found an old VHS tape of Coen Brothers’ Fargo, which she’s mistaken as a documentary for it fake disclaimer, to trigger her […]

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