Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Fargo begins with a message, "This film was based on true events," which you'll find in numerous other movies and which is used as some sort of selling point. I know more than a few people who buy into this as some amazing feat that makes a movie more attractive for historicity or some such. However for this film it's a lie, or at least the addendum is a lie. There was once a person who put up around a million for a ransom and there was a completely different guy who stuffed a corpse in a woodchipper attempting to get rid of the evidence, but those are the only two things that are "true" about the film. This I feel is a fitting introduction to the Coen's, they like to fuck with preconceived notions about films and that makes their movies that much more humorous.

I am not a Coen fanboy as it were but they certainly have an outstanding cinematographer that makes each and every film immersive. It had been extremely cold the past week here so I felt Fargo's Minnesotan icy winter was appropriate (ironically during filming they actually ran into a problem of their being no snow and had to import most of it). The film's narrative is relatively easy to follow but at the same time feels sort of disconnected, each character save the sheriff is independently dense and strangely motivated and except for the two "villains" they all speak with that Canadian type of accent.

Both of those villains are played exceptionally well, granted one of the roles wasn't exactly difficult to play but he still nailed the scenes to comedic effect. One is Steve Buscemi who is *surprise* a fast talking weasel who specializes in kidnapping morons for other morons who negotiate with rich morons to get money. The other introduces himself with the greatest line in cinematic history "Where is Pancake's House?" These two fellows set out on a mission to kidnap William H. Macy's wife so her rich dad can pay them off and he can get rid of some outstanding debt. The plot and length of the film are a fairly simple basic thriller but the way it turns out and the humorous design of the characters and portrayal of "Minnesota Nice" people are what makes this movie great.

The sheriff, played by Frances McDormand, is introduced after they kill three people attempting to avoid discovery about 30 minutes into the film which is just 98 minutes long. However she is by far the best character and despite eye witnesses best efforts to describe the two men as vaguely as possible she still makes progress on the case. This incredible tip is what actually leads to her finding the house where the two villains are staying. Here's a non sequitor of a non sequitor within the film, which is hilarious after you've seen the film and fairly strange the first time, just a sample of Coen-style humor. The way he says "You were such a super lady, I been so lonely" is awesome.

Overall this is the most acclaimed film that the Coen's have made and I believe relatively the most commercially successful until True Grit. I don't necessarily think it's any better than No Country for Old Men but it's still an excellent film to add to their repertoire. While it might be slightly overrated to people that hate the Coen's (Fargo was great, everything else was terrible! They aren't funny! Blah blah blah) I still think it's a respectable film that feels just as immersive as their other works. The stark contrast of blood and snow is the most memorable part of the film for me.

Final Score: 9/10

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