Fargo (1996)


I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou.

— Marge Gunderson

Fargo is considered the greatest film that the Coen Brothers have ever made. I was ashamed that I have never seen this #124 movie of All Time on IMDb. All I knew about this movie is a pregnant sheriff, a car salesman and the wood chipper. This movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It won Best Actress for Frances McDormand and the brothers for Best Original Screenplay.

This movie is apparently based on true events that happened in Minnesota in 1987. The names have been changed to protect the real life families from the prying eyes of the public.

A frazzled car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hires a pair of thugs, Carl and Gaear (Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare) with a new car and forty thousand dollars to kidnap his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrüd), because he has outstanding debt to pay off. That was his Plan B.

In a last ditch effort to avoid that is to convince his father-in-law, Wade (Harve Presnell) to purchase some land for a parking lot to get a huge finder’s fee for his efforts.

Things start to get out of the control when Carl and Gaear follow through with the kidnapping that leads to a triple homicide on highway.

Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is the pregnant Brainerd police chief that investigates the highway murders. She expertly retraces what happens and bring whoever is responsible to justice.

This movie reminded me very much of No Country for Old Men, dealing with a small town living with a silent killer trying to get money back. I know that this movie was made-up and the latter was based on Cormac Macarthy’s book.

I enjoyed the monochromatic imagery of the snow blanketing the entire landscape. The story has you spinning in circles about what will happen next. It could dramatic, comedic, heartfelt and borderline creepy at times. That’s not to say that this is a masterpiece.

The accents on some of the actors slipped in and out. More of the Minnesotans with the “ya” and “you knows” were getting on my nerves. After watching that movie, I don’t understand why Frances won the Oscar. She was okay. She wasn’t spectacular in the movie to deserve the accolade. I also had problems with some plot holes. I will discuss those in the spoiler section.

Judgment: Not the Coens best movie, but it does have good things going for it.

Rating: ****


At the end of the movie when the police come to arrest Jerry, I wondered who is the hell is taking care of his son, Scotty? Remember, Carl shot the grandfather and Gaear shot his wife, Jean. Maybe that was nitpicking. I have to ask.

What happened with Shep Proudfoot? He was involved in the plot. He wasn’t arrested or anything.

When Marge found the car and called for backup, what made her think of confronting Gaear by herself with her little pistol?

What was up with that sequence with the old acquaintance, Mark? Why was that in there?

What kind of debt was Jerry in when he wanted to concoct the scheme to have his wife kidnapped? Whom did he owe money?

What happened to the money that Carl buried in the show after he killed Wade?

About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on October 10, 2009, in 1996, Academy Award Winner, Action, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Crime, Drama, Running Feature, Thriller, Top 250 of All Time on IMDB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m glad to hear you don’t consider this their best either, because I think it’s one of their better pieces but I have other personal favorites. Raising Arizona in particular. Excellent and poignant review.

    • Thank you, Heather. I think Raising Arizona is their best comedy to date. This film was good, not great. I want to see Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing.

      What I have seen so far, I think No Country for Old Men is their best film.

  2. mcarteratthemovies

    You know, until your post, I hadn’t given much thought to all the questions left unanswered. Kudos for including them here.

    Like you and Heather I don’t consider “Fargo” to be the Coens’ crowning achievement — I reserve that honor for “Blood Simple” and “No Country for Old Men.” This one, however, has a special place in my heart because it convinced me that Frances McDormand is a very fine and underrated actress who can do anything, from comedy to drama and everything in-between.

    • I think at the time, it was their best movie. Since ’96, they made No Country and A Serious Man.

      I think this movie is pure nostalgia for some of the situations in this movie.

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