Fargo begins with a desperate family-man in debt and concludes with a foot bobbing around in a wood chipper. I guess you could say it’s the cinematic exploration of the marriage between the phrases “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” and “That escalated quickly.” It’s a film that exists between genres (crime, comedy, drama), straddles the line between subtlety and grandiloquence, and with characters so unique and morally grey that you can’t always decide who you’re rooting for. And it’s great!
Let’s break it down: William H. Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard is in debt and has several shady ploys in motion to recoup his losses, the most devilish of which is the staged kidnapping of his wife to extort his wealthy father-in-law for money. The kidnapping, carried out by Gaear and Carl (Steve Buscemi—always a favorite—and Peter Stormare) goes south when the kidnappers are pulled over by a cop and before you know it, there are 3 dead bodies to account for. That’s when Francis McDormand’s Marge Gunderson arrives, the spunky and very-pregnant Brainerd police chief, to embark on an investigation across Minnesota on a trail that will hopefully lead the police back to Lundegaard, in North Dakota. Bismark, that is—not Fargo—only the opening scene takes place in Fargo!
I loved this film. It was dark, and funny, and interesting. The characters were Midwestern caricatures, but portrayed with an uneasy realness that had you rooting for them and fearing them. Francis McDormand’s Marge Gunderson was damn hilarious. She’s seriously one of my favorite comedy performances of all time and will likely be on my top-10 favorite new characters from this year’s film screenings. And for all of the wit, there was a weighty darkness (and a likely manufactured "based on a true story" tag) that kept the story grounded. Finally, the north-Midwestern setting, with its whitewashed landscapes and “Ohdontchaknow”s, was the otherworldly cherry on top.
Nothing else to say but I loved this film!