johnlink ranks FARGO (1996)

Well, here we are, 489 movies in. And for the first time, I had to go back and check to see if I had written something up on a movie or not. I couldn’t remember writing an article, but I feel like I’d seen this movie recently. I suppose that is a good place to start the compliment parade for FARGO: it’s a movie which stays present in the mind.

fargo 4

I watched FARGO on 12.19.12. It was my fourth viewing of the film, and the first in at least four years. Though it feels more recent than that.

FARGO begins with a disclaimer that this is all based on a true story, that absolutely nothing but the names have been changed out of respect for the dead. This must have seemed like a great joke to the Coen Brothers, who then go on to show us a movie filled with people doing small things. This is not at all a true story (if it happened exactly as real life occurred, how would we ever know the exacts of the above picture, for example). The point is that life is lived in the small moments as much as the murderous or treacherous moments.

As much time is spent on jumping cars, mindless conversations, silly television shows, and trying to be a good conversationalist as is spent on murder, kidnapping, and criminal activity.

It is no small choice that this film is called FARGO. This is a movie about life in the somewhat isolated northern part of the United States in winter. We are presented with only three people who are not from there. We have the criminal pairing of Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare). One talks to much, at a rapid fire pace (guess which one) and one says barely anything at all. The only other character we get is Shep (Steve Reevis) a Native American who is quiet yet volatile.

These three don’t corner the market on bad behavior, but they are clearly unlike the people who are from Fargo and its surrounding areas. As a means of contrast, we are also presented with Mike Yanagita (Stephen Park), an Asian American. He is there partly to provide a jolt to Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), but more subtly to make a statement that ethnicity doesn’t trump the Fargo lifestyle or the Fargo dialect.

Much has been said about that dialect, that accent. Some love it, some hate it. For me, it provides the perfect cadence to the film. It’s as if the films problems gets solved by the cadence, by the careful and rhythmic speech.

For those new to the film, the plot involves an indebted car salesman, Jerry (William H Macy) who hires Carl and Gaear to kidnap his wife (Kristin Rudrud) in an attempt to extort his father-in-law Wade (Harve Presnell). Things, as can be assumed, don’t go as planned. And Marge comes in to investigate the aftermath, while not even knowing a kidnapping has occurred.

The plot could be shown on screen in 20 or 30 minutes. Much of the movie, then, has to do with fleshing out these characters and allowing the audience the opportunity to feel as though they have been to Fargo itself.

The acting in this is amazing. Perhaps we can see the actors being cute with the accent once or twice, but Macy, McDormand, Buscemi, and Stormare are just so effective. This movie is a great example of a strong woman taking control. It’s easy to forget that Marge doesn’t show up until 30 minutes in, because FARGO feels like her movie.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the end of this film (post-wood-chipper) personally. While the ending is not as problematic as the Coen Brothers’ BURN AFTER READING, the point is not all that much different: Sometimes bad things happen and we don’t get to fully understand why. And then life goes on.

So much of this film stays present in the mind. I can hear lines of dialogue before they are said, even if I haven’t seen it in years, and haven’t seen it all that many times. I’m not sure that it is one of my favorite movies, but it has a way of sticking with you. I respect the hell out of FARGO. It’s movie making with a purpose. Even if I don’t love the end, I love the journey.



The bonus point is for a wonderful musical score. At times haunting, at times playful, Carter Burwell does a great job of reinforcing the story and people within Fargo.



~ by johnlink00 on December 20, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks FARGO (1996)”

  1. Las modalidades de apuestas además son muy diversas y de ellas depende el premio.

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