Leave it to the wildly inventive Coen brothers (Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write) to concoct a fiendishly clever kidnap caper that's simultaneously a comedy of errors, a Midwestern satire, a taut suspense thri... more »ller, and a violent tale of criminal misfortune. It all begins when a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) ineptly orchestrates the kidnapping of his own wife. The plan goes horribly awry in the hands of bumbling bad guys Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare (one of them being described by a local girl as "kinda funny lookin'" and "not circumcised"), and the pregnant sheriff of Brainerd, Minnesota, (played exquisitely by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning role) is suddenly faced with a case of multiple murders. Her investigation is laced with offbeat observations about life in the rural hinterland of Minnesota and North Dakota, and Fargo embraces its local yokels with affectionate humor. At times shocking and hilarious, Fargo is utterly unique and distinctly American, bearing the unmistakable stamp of its inspired creators. --Jeff Shannon« less
One of the best Coen Brother films (my other favs being The Big Lebowski, Crimewave, Raising Arizona, and The Hudsucker Proxy). A tale of a kidnapping gone wrong and the determined small-town female police chief whose lap the debacle falls into. Typical Coen Brothers humor, black. (Bleak may actually be a better adjective for this one.)
"You are a smooth smoothie, you know..."
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 02/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very few movies stand out in the world of cinema in a way that "Fargo" does. This off-the-wall thriller that combines humor with suspense is an absolute masterpiece in my eyes. It's one of those films that I can watch over and over again without ever worrying about getting tired of it. It is a movie that is crafted and presented to us in a fresh and exciting manner.The plot revolves around a bizarre kidnapping scheme. Jerry Lundergaard is pressed for cash, so he resorts to hiring two thugs to kidnap his own wife so that his father-in-law will pay the ransom. Sounds like one bizarre plan, but one must remember how desperate people can get when it comes to money issues. It's easy to see that trouble lies ahead once the plan is set into motion, and a series of events have been unleashed that cannot be undone. What's supposed to be a simple and straight-forward plan ends up being a horrific mess with unspeakable consequences. "Fargo" is truly one of those films where you know the majority of the population has seen it. Everybody repeats the lines, reenacts the silly and sometimes over-the-top accent (although, I have been to Minnesota many times, and people do talk like that!), and everybody seems to have their own favorite scene out of the movie. The film is amazingly written and directed by the Coen Brothers, who have made movies like "Miller's Crossing," "Barton Fink," "Raising Arizona," and "The Man Who Wasn't There." It's a treat to watch them keep coming up with fresh and original films that never seem similar to their past movies. The film also includes a phenomenal cast that really makes everything work. William H. Macy is great in his performance of the husband, as he shows great human qualities along with the devious and terrible ones. Francis McDormand is absolutely fantastic in her role of "Marge" and steals every single scene that she is in. Let's not forget to mention Steve Buschemi (the "funny-looking" guy) and quiet but extremely violent Peter Stormare as the two spineless thugs.In this "Special Edition" package, we finally get to see the film recieve the care and treatment that it deserves. The picture and sound quality is more than satisfying--especially the sound, as this is the first time that it's available in five-channel Dolby Surround. The DVD contains widescreen and fullscreen presentations of the film (I always recommend watching the film in widescreen, as you are seeing exactly what the director wants you to see). Special features include a behind-the-scenes documentary, a Charlie Rose interview with the Coen Brothers and Francis McDormand, audio commentary by the director of photography, trailers and more. The behind-the-scenes feature and the interview with Charlie Rose are really worth checking out, as the issue of this movie being "based on a true" story is finally put to rest. And the answer is--well, I'm not going to tell you that! That defeats the whole purpose of getting this fully-loaded DVD package. Trust me, no matter what the answer may be, it doesn't take anything away from the movie and everything is explained in a very reasonable way. This is definitely an impressive package for one heck of an impressive movie."Fargo" is a film that will always be around. It has already reached "classic" status in so little time and is critically acclaimed by some of the world's top movie critics. While the movie may be violent and extremely dark, make sure to pay close attention to the end where Marge is talking to "someone" in her squad car, as that really is what the whole theme of the movie is about (and it is a great scene, I might add). If you have not given this movie a viewing, be sure to check it out when you can. Is it a fantastic film that can be watched numerous times? You betcha!! -Michael Crane"
The Coen's pay tribute to Middle America
Mykal Banta | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 07/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the Cohen Brother's tremendously entertaining movies, this is the best. This is the one that they will be remembered for. William H. Macy plays Jerry Lundegaard, a man in a spot. He's a used car salesman that has been securing loans for cars that are not really in his lot. The bank is calling in the loans, threatening legal action, and he needs money fast. He forms a plan to have his own wife kidnapped, thereby splitting the ransom money between himself and the kidnappers. It's a terrible plan, and it quickly unravels into a bloody mess of murder and betrayal. When bodies begin to mount, a local police officer, Marge Gunderson, is called in. Frances McDormand plays Marge Gunderson, and she makes the movie magical.McDormand won an Oscar for the role, and this is one instance when the recipient deserved the award. She plays "Margie" with a huge dose of humanity. She is a character that sneaks up on you. When she is introduced, you wonder if perhaps she is just a small town officer in way over her head. She is pregnant, speaks in small town (Minnesota) idioms, and throws up from morning sickness when investigating the first brutal murders. She seems more like a nice, Minnesotan housewife than a cop. But early you get the feeling that there is something special about her. The killings involve a traffic cop that was killed while issuing a ticket for a missing plate. In his log book, he was written DLR. When Marge's fellow officer says that he has run a search for all tags starting with DLR, Marge says gently, "I'm not sure I agree with you 100 percent on your police work there, Irv." She explains to Irv that DLR means that it was a new car, a dealer's car. "Oooh" says Irv, staring into space. Then Marge tells Irv a joke about the guy that couldn't afford a vanity license plate, so he changed his name to FGS1135. "That's a good one," says Irv, but it is clear Marge's wit has gone over his head. The brilliance of the scene is that Marge is never cruel or condescending to Irv, never thinks less of him, and is not making fun of him. She is simply enjoying her own intelligence, and we can see the very private sparkle in her eyes. Marge also has a core of steel. Watch the scene where she gets information from a menacing suspect by reminding him, with almost motherly concern, about all the trouble he has been in with the law, and the fact that he is actually in violation of his parole. She cracks him like an egg without ever loosing her smile.All actors concerned give great performances. Steve Buscemi brings his pitch-perfect snide larceny to the table, playing one of the kidnappers; and Peter Stormare (who once played Hamlet in an Igmar Bergman production) utters perhaps 15 words in a terrifying performance as the other kidnapper. And, of cource, William H. Macey couldn't have played it Better. His Jerry Lundegaard is so full of stress and fear, you can't watch him without squirming. I have read where this film has been criticized for making fun of the people of Minnesota, poking fun at their accents and manners. This is not true. The Coen Brothers grew up in Minneapolis, and this is their homage to their own people. The folks in Minnesota may talk funny to the reviewers watching movies in New York and Los Angeles, but this film in no way makes fun of them. At the end of the day, Marge and her husband are happily going to sleep in their bed, in love with one another and content with their shared life. How many other couples portrayed in a Coen Brother's film can make this claim? How anyone can watch Marge Gunderson in action and think the Coen's were making fun of her is beyond me. Like Marge, they are simply enjoying their own intelligence."
K. Oppegaard | 05/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having owned Fargo both on laserdisc and DVD, watching the Blu-ray transfer projected onto a 200 inch screen is like experiencing the film for the first time at the cinema. If not reference quality (this was a low-budget, independant production), the picture and detail are vastly improved compared to any previous home video presentation - the blood really gushes out of the screen. One can now actually see all the unsavoury goings-on in all the murky interior scenes. There is a lot of film grain visible, so thankfully little or no digital noise reduction applied here. The aspect ratio and framing are correct and the sound and dialogue are much clearer than on the very thin-sounding DVD. There are minor edge-enhancement gripes, as other reviewers have pointed out: halos around black objects placed against white backgrounds (see the opening titles, or the lamp posts in Gunderson's car lot) - but this shouldn't prevent any film fanatic from shredding the DVD in the wood-chipper and upgrading to this version."
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 07/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whenever I rave about a movie I've recently seen, there's the inevitable question "What's it about?" With regard to this film, I recall responding that it's about a pregnant police chief who eventually solves a series of brutal murders somewhere in the Upper Midwest. (Brainerd, Minnesota? Fargo, North Dakota?) It is always a pleasure to observe Frances McDormand's performance in a role for which she received an Academy Award for best actress in 1996. The film was directed by Joel Coen who co-wrote the screenplay with brother Ethan. This film effectively combines some of the most dead-on (albeit affectionate) cultural satire of Scandinavian Americans in "Small Town U.S.A." with severe physical violence as when one victim is stuffed upside-down in a wood chip machine. (When I first observed "Margie" methodically gathering information, I was reminded of Colombo whose keen mind is also underestimated.) The basic story involves Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a desperate swindler. After his wealthy father-in-law Wade Gustafson (played by Harve Presnell whom I did not recognize) refuses to become involved in a real estate project, Lundegaard hires Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimstad (Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife Jean (Kristin Rudrud) so that he can use most of the ransom to cover his debts and thereby conceal his crimes. Of course, his plan fails and several lose their lives as a result. As the film ends, the camera focuses on Chief Gunderson as drives her police sedan across the bleak winter landscape (think of the surface of the moon beneath three feet of snow and ice), with one of the two kidnappers in custody. She claims not to understand how anyone could behave badly in such a "beautiful" world.Yes, this is a nasty film...at times severely violent. It also has a number of delightful comic moments, notably during Chief Gunderson's conversations with her husband Norm (John Carroll Lynch) as well as with Lundegaard. The acting by all members of the cast is consistently brilliant under Coen's crisp direction. After numerous viewings, what I still enjoy most in this film is McDormand's performance. Chief Gunderson may have a trusting heart but also a remarkably sharp mind. She wants so much to believe in goodness, to think the best of others, but she is by no means naive. As played by McDormand, she invests this film a warmth which is all the more remarkable, given the physical setting and time of the year."
Fargo: "Wow, Daddy" Great
RJDH | Bentonvill, AR | 01/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fargo is a truly great modern-classic. Frances McDormand is touching with her old-fashioned values amongst all the violence and greed of the other characters. William H. Macy is able to gain our sympathies, even after all the horrible events that unfold. He wasn't a bad guy, just stupid. Steve Buscemi is hilarious and perfect playing a weasily little man "Wow, Daddy." Peter Stormare is brutal, and very much resembling an angel of death when he walks from his car after the accident. And to think that such cold, introverted people exist among is is chilling. Also, the Coen brothers casting of actors who look average is also very effective, not only in the main roles, but small parts too. The man who tells the police officer information on Steve Buscemi is hilarious in his natural, average demeanor. And instead of picking a conventionally gorgeous woman to be placed in the flipped-over car, the Coen's pick a woman with a kind of average prettiness, that's much more powerful because she is like people we know, and we can see her having a family and friends who would miss her. The music, also, is wonderfully sad and moving. Fargo is not a comedy, but it is a kind of joke, and when watching it one must remember that the Coens are probably laughing at every scene, even if we are not. Also, the family who thinks Fargo is the worst movie ever, and when discussing bad movies says: "but is it FARGO bad?!?!" must be the biggest bunch of dumbasses in the world. Please stop watching movies, and if that is too much to ask, please, please stop polluting the internet. But yeah, Fargo is very good. May take a few viewings to appreciate fully, so worth buying definitely."