Pure black comedy mixed with crime, murder and mayhem: welcome to Fargo. This film is another winner by the Coen Brothers, two directors that I love. Masters of offbeat, low-key cinema, they always know how to reinvent the wheel.
Set in 80s Minnesota, Fargo starts off by telling the audience that what you’re about to see is based on a true story. You’d have to be very gullible to believe this statement, but it’s a lie told in the name of ironic quirkiness while pulling you into the story, which centres around Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy).
Jerry is a car salesman who’s in hot financial trouble. Desperate for money, he travels to Fargo, North Dakota and hires a couple of small-time criminals, Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife, to get a big ransom for himself. It looks like Jerry’s plan is going to work, but when Sheriff Marge (Frances McDormand) starts investigating, it all goes downhill from there.
So the film deals with a dark subject matter, yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The comedy, dialogue, characters and overall tone are impossible not to enjoy. I loved everything about Fargo. It’s told with so many laughs, action, randomness and a hell of a load of snow.
Written and directed with nerve, ambition and a care-free attitude, The Coen Brothers are spot on with everything they do. The realism and comedy are perfectly balanced, and there is a realistic quality to be found in every character. No one is super intelligent like in other crime dramas. They’re all a bunch of average joes…
Except for Grimsrud, a mute psychopath. But damn, what a badass character he is. In one scene, he chases down a car after the people inside spot Grimsrud and Carl getting rid of a body. I wouldn’t call it an epic chase scene, but it’s so entertaining, just like the whole film.
I don’t know how The Coen Brothers do it, but they have such an ear for the subtle, unique quirks of human conversation. Every character speaks to each other in a smoothly connected way but in a goofy manner. They all throw around things like “Oh Ya!” and “You Betcha!”. The word “yah” must have been spoken at least fifty times.
The Coen Brothers create their own world in this film and it really sticks in your brain.
I see Fargo as a cult classic. It’s effortlessly cool, darkly funny and packed with stylish realism. Going into it expecting a conventional plot is a mistake. It’s totally unconventional and more impressive is that it still holds up visually two decades after it came out. Essential viewing.
Directed and written by: The Coen Brothers
Stars: William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand, Peter Stormare, John Carroll Lynch.
Distributor: Polygram Filmed Entertainment (Theatrical)
Run Time: 98 minutes.
What are your thoughts on Fargo? What’s your favourite film by The Coen Brothers? Let me know in the comment section!