- Joel Coen
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Tuesday, September 11, 2001
A man in need for cash (William H. Macy) sets up the kidnapping of his own wife by hiring two thugs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to do it and ask for the ransom, which, according to the plan, her father will pay. These guys quickly mess everything up as they start leaving dead bodies behind, so a local cop (Frances McDormand) is assigned to investigate the murders.
Fargo is supposedly based on a true story, although the Coens admittedly changed some events so everything would fit in their story. Never mind, the movie as it is couldn’t be more unique. It works as a black comedy and as a satire all the same. It is with the Coens trademark sense of humor that the story evolves into something much more than what we may think beforehand.
The movie is set in Minnesota. This is purposely done as a mean to satirize Minnesotans. I must say I had never seen a movie whose main target were this people, but then again, it is the Coens, and we should always expect the unexpected. It all goes down to the way they talk and the way they act. Some very funny dialogue is derived from here.
Fargo also presents a redeeming quality that kind of celebrates the human spirit. It shows how even amongst the most gruesome environments there’s always light. How even if there are thousands of detestable people in the world there always are nice people as well. It shows how absurd one’s life could get for the most stupid of reasons. And everything is done all so subtle, without preaching or getting corny. The Coens know how to spice everything with just the right touch.
We all know a good movie almost always comes from a good script. This is no exception. Joel and Ethan Coen scripted Fargo as an intelligent comedy with some drama and suspense that never ceases to impress. Twists and turns are all over the place, but the characters always stay true to themselves and that’s what matters the most.
Giving them life is a group of highly talented performers who manage to understand the Coens’ vision to perfection. Frances McDormand, in her Oscar-winning performance, is flawless. She’s mostly the only likable main character in the movie and yet she’s also subtle and funny and commanding and real. She manages to convey so much while making it seem so easy. William H. Macy is excellent as well as the pathetic, somewhat shy guy behind it all. This role was made for him. I couldn’t picture anyone else in it. Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare make a great pair. They’re both excellent while being so different.
I have only got words of praise for this movie. Perhaps there’s only a tiny detail I didn’t love, which is the subplot involving a friend from the past. I don’t know how much it serves the story, but even those scenes are full of great gags. Overall, Fargo delivers and does so in its very own way.
Special mention goes to Carter Burwell’s excellent score!
“Well, I just don't understand it.”
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Other reviews of Fargo (1996): Groucho