Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen
Written by Joel and Ethan Coen

Frances McDormand, William H Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stomare, Harv Presnell, John Carroll Lynch.

Jerry Lundergard (Macy) hires two criminals (Buscemi and Stomare) to kidnap his wife, in order to collect on the ransom from her rich dad (Presnell). When the kidnapping goes south, and a multiple homicide occurs, the very pregnant Chief of Police Marge Gunderson (McDormand) is called to investigate.

Near perfect thriller, is perfectly married with a dark comedy vibes. – Which include the overly caricatures of the Minnesotan/North Dakota accents (which as a non American I can only presume is tongue in cheek there too). The very frequent use of “Ya” is highly quotable. Buscemi’s unique look is also poked fun at, and his character pairs well with the ‘less vocal’ Stomare

The winter setting, with the constant snow – and what looked to be bitter cold – only amplifies the mood of the film – and there are several moments that could not have occurred if this was not present.  

The score by Carter Burwell is one of my favorites of his, once again taking inspiration (here from Norwegian Den bortkomne sauen) and making it his own. His score here, is on par with In Bruges. Ironically that Burwell is also a frequent collaborator with Martin McDonagh – as McDormand won her Best Actress Academy award under both Joel Coen (her husband) and McDonagh (in Three Billboards),

There is very few downs in this movie, but one glaring fault is the scene with Mike – it feels completely out of place and brings very little to the film. Given the very compact runtime of a little over 90 minutes, I have never been a fan of this film.

The performances are all wonderful, and given that McDormand (who gets top billing) doesn’t appear until almost a third a way through the film, she absolutely deserves her accolades for this role.

This resides in pop culture of one of the best films of the nineties, and it still holds up.



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