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Fargo (1996)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 69
Fresh: 65 | Rotten: 4

Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, Fargo delivers an original crime story and a wonderful performance by McDormand.

86

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 3

Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, Fargo delivers an original crime story and a wonderful performance by McDormand.

audience

93

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 226,590

My Rating

Movie Info

Filmmaking siblings Joel Coen and Ethan Coen both embraced and poked satirical fun at their Minnesotan roots with this comedy-drama-thriller that earned seven Oscar nominations, winning for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. Frances McDormand stars as Marge Gunderson, a pregnant police chief whose affable, folksy demeanor masks a whip-smart mind. When a pair of motorists are found slain not far from the corpse of a state trooper, Marge begins piecing together a case involving a pair of

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

,

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Jun 24, 1997

MGM - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (69) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (65) | Rotten (4) | DVD (41)

Fargo is a strikingly mature, uniqueentertainment that plays on many levels ... all satisfying.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Coens remain effortlessly ahead of the American field.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gunderson (Frances McDormand) [is] the most endearing, hilarious and wholly feminine heroine since Thelma or Louise.

January 18, 2002 | Comments (3)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Chief Gunderson was created by the Coens specifically for Frances McDormand ... and they've been rewarded by a brilliant and unblinking comic performance.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like every other critic I'm aware of, I loved this movie.

January 1, 2000
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen return to the glory days of 1987 and Raising Arizona.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The performances by McDormand (bringing a GREAT screen character to life) and Macy are superb.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

As is typical Coen Brothers entertainment. "Fargo" offers incredibly complex characterization along with very memorable dark comedy.

April 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Dark, gritty, and brilliant. Not for kids.

December 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

"Fargo" is the kind of black comedy you can rediscover over and over again. The laughs and shocks never fade.

January 17, 2010 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Quite simply, Fargo is the best movie the Coen Brothers have ever made. And that's saying a lot.

January 10, 2010 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

The most complete film the Coens have ever made, it's nothing short of a movie for the ages.

December 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

The Coen Brothers have always loved to go far, a tactic they don't forgo in Fargo. [Blu-ray]

June 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews | Comment (1)
Groucho Reviews

Do you have to be a Minnesotan to really get Fargo?

May 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine | Comments (5)
Slant Magazine

The best movie heroine in years.

February 3, 2008 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

This may be the warmest movie the Coen brothers have ever made.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

[Marge is] a good cop because everything abnormal stands out like a stain against her white-on-white sanity.... [H]er incomprehension [of criminality] is not only her strength as a detective, it justifies the deadpan style of the movie.

September 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Blogcritics.org
Blogcritics.org

Much less vain, flamboyant, and showy than their other pictures, Fargo bears the thematic influence of Samuel Beckett and the stylish coolness of Finland's Aki Kaurismaki, but the violence is all Coens.

June 26, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

One of the more entertaining films of the 1990s.

January 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comment (1)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This is a near brilliant/near masterpiece (if not an outright masterpiece).

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

It's good storytelling ... hilarious, disturbing, tragic, and hopeful. But it's not for the squeamish.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

An odd, intriguing, and entertaining film.

January 7, 2005 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

The brothers have returned to their roots, both visually and literally. Their new film is reminiscent of their debut movie, Blood Simple, and its wry look at murder.

June 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

For all its blood, the movie contains large doses of humor and not a little sweetness and hope.

January 5, 2004 Full Review

Audience Reviews for Fargo

Funny, suspenseful, and brilliantly plotted. I loved how the film was constructed, the funny accents, the would-be thugs, the somewhat dim-witted townsfolk, the strong Marge, and the nervous Jerry. Every character is excellently portrayed and the story told is strong and well conceived. A must-see.
April 18, 2014
Raajay

Super Reviewer

This darkly comedic crime thriller from Joel and Ethan Coen is a real doozy, don'tcha know?

Set around Minnesota and North Dakota in the winter of 1987, this film both embraces and satirizes the Minnesota upbringing of its writers/producers/directors.

William H. Macy is Jerry Lundegaard- a sad sack ineffectual car salesman who is hard up for money. His wife and her dad (Jerry's boss) are both well off, but, even if they knew he needed the money, they probably wouldn't give it to him anyway, His solution is to enlist a criminal version of the odd couple (chatter box Steve Buscemi, and silent psycho Peter Stormare) to kidnap Jerry's wife, then use the ransom as payment for both them and himself.

Things get complex, and especially messy when the plan doesn't go as designed, and blood becomes shed. To make things even more interesting, small town sheriff Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) gets thrown into the mix, and her down to Earth, smart approach really adds layers of warmth and heart, made even more poignant by the fact that she's also 7 months pregnant.

There's already been so much written about this, that I really don't have anything new to contribute. It holds up to its reputation, and is a real masterpiece of writing, direction, and acting. I can't really describe it: everything just clicks, and there's a nice balance to the laughs and bloodshed. The characters and themes are interesting and thought provoking, and come on, Marge Gunderson is undeniably one of the coolest and greatest characters ever created. I'm so happy this film nabbed the Bros. Coen a writing Oscar, as well as one for McDormand's superb acting. It's a shame.

Like all Coen Brothers films, the cinematography and music are brilliant, and, while complex, the film is really fairly easy to follow. It's a shame this lost Best Picture to The English Patient, because this was the film that deserved it more.

Bottom line: this is a must see, and its place on all the various types of best of lists is absolutely justified. Truly a great American classic.
July 10, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

When I first heard of Fargo, I thought from all these reviews that it was a comedy. When I read the genre, it told me it was a crime-thriller. And before I watched it on Epix, I learned it was a dark comedy. Then I thought I was gonna hate this movie, for the film "A Serious Man" was a dark-comedy and was also directed by the Coen brothers, was a complete and utter failure to me. But I soon came to realize something during the film; this movie is amazing. It started as a comedy, in which the laughs were very dark and enjoyable, then grew into a problematic drama, which grew into a crime film, and then quickly into a thriller. All the genres that I expected were in the film, but never was my first thought about it. Fargo is a film that surprised me completely. Winning two academy awards (Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay), Fargo is an exciting adventure to watch. Based in small cities of Minnesota, Fargo is about a car salesman who tries to buy an investment on a parking lot. He needs money, so he decides to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife and ask for ransom from her father (who is extremely wealthy) so he can get the money to invest. But not all goes as planned, and murder, lying, robbery, and much more occur in the events that happen afterwards. Joel and Ethan always seem to make me happy (besides "A Serious Man"), and not many directors can do that. The Acting was very well done, and I disagree with the Academy at not giving William H. Macy a nomination for Best Lead Actor, let alone not giving him a win for Best Supporting Actor. I believe his acting was better than Francis McDormand's, although she did deserve her win. Steve Beschumi also played his part as a villain well, as he always does. The Cinematography of this film was good. But I am also upset with the Academy for not giving this film a nomination for the score, which was excellent. It was perfect for the film, and fit the scenes well. If I heard this score again, I'd know it was from Fargo. The film really revolves around the characters alot in the film, and I give much respect for the film. The different character's lives and feelings were depicted in a very different way, with scenes that just brought happiness, terror, or humor to the eyes of the character's, and the audiences. But, there were little parts in the film that I didn't like, starting with some unnecessary scenes. There were amounts of sex in the film which didn't need to be there, and some scenes that didn't make any sense. And then there was the fact that the police officer was pregnant, which brought a few laughs to the film, but no actual meaning to the plot. That's really all. All in all, this was a film that should be viewed by any happy, mature audience, and should be praised highly by any open-minded movie goer.


If you still didnt't understand why i gave this film the rating it got, please visit the link below:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/user/935623/blogs/?id=703501
March 14, 2013
shahmeer h.
shahmeer hashmat

Super Reviewer

Very well written film full of twists and bleak events that strangely force you to look at your own life and situations in a new and enlightening way. Boasting a fantastic cast, it's impossible not to get involved in this believable and realistic film. The only problem maybe it that it's a bit too realistic, containing several slow and boring parts.
November 29, 2012
StarCrossedVoyager

Super Reviewer

    1. Marge Gunderson: Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me! I'm just doing my job here.
    – Submitted by Tony G (3 months ago)
    1. Marge Gunderson: Hiya, Lou. Whoo! What ya got there?
    2. Officer Olson: Margie, thought you might need a little warm-up.
    3. Marge Gunderson: Thanks a bunch. So, what's the deal? Gary says triple homicide.
    – Submitted by Rolf J (13 months ago)
    1. Gaear Grimsrud: You'll take care of it. Boy, you a smooth smooth, you know.
    2. Carl Showalter: Whoa, Daddy.
    – Submitted by Connor V (15 months ago)
    1. Carl Showalter: You should see the over guy!
    – Submitted by Peter G (15 months ago)
    1. Jerry Lundegaard: I'm, uh, Jerry Lundegaard.
    2. Carl Showalter: You're Jerry Lundegaard?
    3. Jerry Lundegaard: Ya. Shep Proudfoot said...
    4. Carl Showalter: Shep said you'd be here at 7:30. What gives, man?
    5. Jerry Lundegaard: Shep said 8:30.
    6. Carl Showalter: We've been sitting here an hour. He's [motioning to Gaer] peed three times already.
    7. Jerry Lundegaard: I'm sure sorry. Shep told me 8:30. It was a mix-up, I guess.
    – Submitted by Charl V (17 months ago)
    1. Mike Yanagita: I liked you so much! You're such a super lady!
    – Submitted by Leah B (18 months ago)
View all quotes (23)

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