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Fargo (1996)

A movie directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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An Uplifting Tale of Kidnapping, Violence and Death

  • Mar 19, 2008
  • by
Rating:
+5
A story about a bungled kidnapping that leads to multiple violent deaths and leaves a teenaged boy orphaned seems like an unlikely recipient of adjectives like 'funny', 'wry', 'humane' and 'oddly beautiful'. But that's the impression that this beautifully scenic movie leaves.
So perhaps the best review is to say that Fargo is an upsetter of categories-a film that uses the awful aspects of American life to point out the beautiful ones.
In spite of the resolutely depraved nature of most of the characters, we end up loving the fundamental earthy innocence of Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson, the pregnant chief of police in a town that's noted mostly for its statue of Paul Bunyan and the presence of the inevitable Blue Ox Inn. The result is a 'feel good' movie that's about deceit and violence. Go figure.
Not to be missed is the awesome scope of the land of the Northern Plains. You have to watch this in the original format to appreciate how the broad horizontality of the land exposes the weird perversity of human nature. Maybe that's what the Coen brothers had in mind.

Lynn Hoffman, author of bang BANG: A Novel and New Short Course in Wine,The

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More Fargo (movie) reviews
review by . January 10, 2011
**** out of ****      With "Fargo", I think that the Coen Brothers have finally perfected their technique. This is not their first masterpiece, although it's the perfect antidote to the disappointment that was "The Hudsucker Proxy"; AKA, the Coen Brothers film before this one. The problem with "Hudsucker" was that it delivered exactly what I wanted it to, but in the worst of ways. I wanted that film to be silly; I wanted it to be satire. And …
review by . February 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
We are thirty minutes into Fargo before we finally meet Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the petite but heavily pregnant police chief in small town Brainerd, Minnesota, who will become the hero we all needed. Relentlessly pleasant and attentive to other's needs, she is also observant, book smart, and people smart, knowing just the right attitude and approach to each character in the movie. She neither asks for nor needs any special consideration for her gender or her condition (although she …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Another Coen Bros gem. Frances McDormand is nothing short of brilliant. Ditto for Steve Buscemi.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie puts a bunch of stereotypes to bed without being preachy.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
My favorite movie about dumb criminals in the midwest and the worst idea in the history of crime. A Classic
review by . June 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Marge Gunderson inspects some malfeasance
I was burned in the past by overhyped movies.      In 1994 Pulp Fiction came out and every show I watched had snippets of the movie and commercials for it were everywhere.  I saw it and honestly it wasn't what I thought it would be and came away cold.      Come 1996 and three movies were getting some big buzz again.  Fargo, Sling Blade and The English Patient.  Howard Stern on his radio show mentioned the former two of the three as being great …
review by . January 18, 2009
Fargo - Special Edition DVD
Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy) is obsessed with getting his grubby paws on his father-in-law's money. He's in "trouble" (what kind isn't explained, but my imagination tells me it's some kind of sleazy business or real estate deal. It's made clear later that Jerry faked VIN numbers on a GMAC loan to receive $320,000 - but GMAC is threatening to call back the money). He's so crazy to get money out of his father-in-law, Wade, that he hires two petty criminals to kidnap his own wife and split the …
review by . July 05, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Whenever I rave about a movie I've recently seen, there's the inevitable question "What's it about?" With regard to this film, I recall responding that it's about a pregnant police chief who eventually solves a series of brutal murders somewhere in the Upper Midwest. (Brainerd, Minnesota? Fargo, North Dakota?) It is always a pleasure to observe Frances McDormand's performance in a role for which she received an Academy Award for best actress in 1996. The film was directed by Joel Coen who co-wrote …
About the reviewer
Lynn Hoffman ()
Ranked #306
I cook therefore I. .therefore I eat. No, maybe that's thereby I eat'.   Anyway, I love food, beer and wine: I like to write about them too,(The New Short Course in Wine is adapted from … more
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About this movie

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Nominated for seven Oscars and winner of two, this darkly amusing thriller combines a first-rate cast, "a dazzling mix of mirth and malice" (Rolling Stone) and a bizarre kidnapping plot that unravels the Midwest like never before. Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi, Fargo is a brilliant tour de force from the creators of Raising Arizonaand O Brother, Where Art Thou? *1996: Best Picture, Director, Actress (McDormand, won), Supporting Actor (Macy), Original Screenplay (won), Cinematography, Editing

Leave it to the wildly inventive Coen brothers (Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write) to concoct a fiendishly clever kidnap caper that's simultaneously a comedy of errors, a Midwestern satire, a taut suspense thriller, and a violent tale of criminal misfortune. It all begins when a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) ineptly orchestrates the kidnapping of his own wife. The plan goes horribly awry in the hands of bumbling bad guys Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare (one of them being described by a local girl as "kinda funny lookin'" and "not circumcised"), and the pregnant sheriff of Brainerd, Minnesota, (played exquisitely by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning role) is suddenly faced with a case of multiple murders. Her investigation is laced with offbeat observations about life in the rural hinterland of Minnesota and North Dakota, andFargoembraces its local yokels with ...
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Details

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
DVD Release Date: August 15, 2000
Runtime: 98 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
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