"a homespun murder story":
Fargo is one of the Coen Brothers best films. I believe I've seen this like four times now and every time I do, it leaves a bigger expression on me. Are there any better filmmakers in the world then the Coen's? This film makes me want to be able to construct a story like this. Their talent is just awe inspiring. Even the things that don't make sense the first time around, like the character Mike who advances the plot nowhere. He's there for a reason though, as is everything and when all the pieces(and there are a shit load of them) come together... chills.
The film starts on a man driving in the snow with another car attached. He arrives in Fargo, North Dakota, where he is meeting two men. The man is Jerry Lundegaard and from the first moment on screen, you know exactly who he is. He has no backbone and is cowardly, but what he's seeing the two men about doesn't fit those character descriptions. He's in a big financial and soon to be legal problem, so he hires two men to kidnap his wife and extort a ransom from her rich father. Everything goes wrong for everyone and a bright, but slightly na´ve North Dakota police woman is right behind them the whole way.
I can't think of any aspect of the film that isn't excellent. None of it is just passable, or okay, or good. It's damn near perfect. The performances. William H. Macy is at his best as the man that can't do anything right. Frances McDormand is beyond words and very deserving of that Oscar. Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are hilarious. The first scene where Stormare is just sitting there, imposing his silent stare on Macy; hilarious. The writing. You can't say enough about how well this story is written. From go, the Coen's are making jokes, saying it's based on true events. The direction goes hand in foot with the writing. Joel and Ethan are on top of everything. The cinematography is beautiful with the pure white snow, and that music is so damn atmospheric and haunting.
The movie is hard to put into words, but obviously it's worthy of a viewing. In fact, it should be necessary. This is filmmaking at its best.
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.
Fargo essentially meshes crime, comedy, and drama all into one and makes a really unique effect with it. Most of the performances here are what makes it a comedy, the plot makes it indefinitely crime and the music sets a bizarre dramatic feeling that you don't see coming. William H. Macy, Frances McDormand and the rest of the Minnesota based characters are all over-played caricatures, earning them really funny moments where there might not otherwise be any. Those accents are completely ridiculous, but somehow it just fits into the whole nutball series of events. The plot is really interesting in that the movie zigzags around it rather than the other way around. Instead of introducing us to all the principle characters first, it takes us almost forty minutes to get around to our principle character. I think that takes away any sort of predictability away from the story; what happens, happens. The Coen Brothers definitely take a very interesting approach to the music in this, it just really has an amazing effect on setting the mood and bring emotional weight to what is happening.
Now this, like all of the Coen Brother's movies, is extremely well shot and put together flawlessly. They are extremely talented writers/directors that seem to just get movies in a way that not many others do. You can tell they know film history like the backs of their hands and have the up most respect for the process. You can see how much time and effort is put into each of their movies and this is one of the prime examples of it. Everything you feel is meant to be felt and that is a kind of control that is hard to achieve.