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 ransom with them. This is just the opening to the movie, wait until it really gets going!
Jerry is a weasel; a sniveling, swindling, conniving, bumbling weasel, and the criminals he hires, Carl Showalter (played by the amazing Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) are not very bright either. During the execution of the kidnapping, they wind out shooting three people in Brainard, a small town outside the Minneapolis area. Assigned to the murders is Brainard's pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Academy Award winning Frances McDormand). Marge, unused to such violence in her small town, is determined to find the killers.
I don't want to give too much away, I want you to be as shocked and entertained as I was when I watched 'Fargo' for the first time. The film moves quickly, and bodies keep unexpectedly dropping. There's never a dull moment. This spectacular Coen Brothers film has everything in it, suspense, comedy, blood, and horror. (It's usually classified as a Dark Comedy). The performances by William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, and Steve Buscemi are brilliant; the casting was perfect. A couple of hilarious scenes are Marge Gunderson interviewing two hookers, and the "Geez, I'm going crazy out there at the lake" story by Mr. Mohra to Officer Olson. You'll laugh out loud at these. Jerry's fumbling, greedy attempts to get money (This is MY deal here, Wade) are a riot, and his temper tantrums when he fails are not to be missed. (William H. Macy should have won the award he was nominated for)
I was finally spurred into writing a review of this, one of my favorite movies, when the Special Edition DVD came out. In the Special Edition you have: *A Documentary called Minnesota Nice (what Frances McDormand punned the dialect used in the film), which is interviews with the Coen Brothers and actors Peter Stormare, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand, and William H. Macy. It also answers once and for all the question of whether or not the movie really is based on a true story. *An Audio Commentary of the film by Cinematographer Roger Deakins. He's not very loquacious, and speaks in a monotone - often muttering - but has interesting details of the locations (most of the movie was filmed on location rather than using studio sets), lighting, camera angles, etc. It's unfortunate he doesn't have much to say about the actors performances though. He also talks way too much about other movies he's filmed rather than focusing specifically on 'Fargo'. *A Trivia Tract. Interesting little windows of information during the film, everything from the actor's previous films to the history of McDonald's restaurants. *A segment of The Charlie Rose show where he interviews Ethan and Joel Coen, and Frances McDormand. *Theatrical and TV trailers.
The Special Edition DVD is worth the price, I recommend purchasing it even if you already own a previously released copy of the film. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then run right out and buy a copy right now. I highly recommend this movie, definitely worth a purchase. 10 Stars. Enjoy!
**** 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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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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 ...