The Coen Brothers’ ‘Fargo’ (1996)

I had no idea what to expect from this film. I’ve seen little tiny bits of it here and there, but never got any sort of impression by it. So, on this snowy day, I decided to once again curl up in my blankets to see what it was all about.

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The film opens up to introduce its first character, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy). How can I accurately describe Jerry? Well…he’s an average Minnesota guy, yah? I really don’t know what the ‘average Minnesota guy’ is like, but Jerry is basically a desperate white-collared father who gets my attention by being so simple-minded. In the first five minutes, we get to meet the brilliance of Steve Buscemi’s character, Carl Showalter, and the emotionally complex accomplice (or is it the other way around?) Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). These two were the comic relief for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed their banter. They kind of reminded me of Penn and Teller (Penn being¬† Buscemi’s character and Teller being Stormare’s character), but their relationship with each other isn’t as close, nor are they magicians…anyway, I digress. I am currently applauding Steve Buscemi-I absolutely loved his character. This was one of my favorite quotes from the film, because it really shows the more vulnerable side of his personality:

“Would it… kill you to say something? “No.” That’s the first thing you’ve said in the last four hours. That’s a… that’s fountain of conversation, man. That’s a geyser. I mean, whoa daddy! Stand back, man. Shit. I’m sitting here driving. Doing all the driving, man. The whole fucking way from Brainard driving. Just trying to… chat, you know. Keep our spirits up, fight the boredom of the road, and you can’t say one fucking thing just in the way of conversation. Oh fuck it. I don’t have to talk to you either, man. See how you like it. Just total fucking silence. Two can play at that game, smart guy. We’ll just see how you like it. Total silence.” – Fargo (1996)

My favorite aspect of this film would have to be Marge Gunderson. She is the glue that puts this film together, and without her I don’t think this film would have been as thought-provoking. This is how I saw it. Her pregnancy and her reconnection with Mike Yanagita (Steve Park), both of which seemed to have no relation to the film whatsoever at first, actually add a lot of meaning to the film. Marge was 7 months pregnant when everything unfolded. Her pregnancy emphasizes her unique feminine role in the film. She comes off so polite and caring, but she kicks ass at the same time and I admire this character for that. It was interesting how none of the other characters acknowledged the fact that she was pregnant, so I’m wondering if that made any difference in how Lundegaard or Grimsrud interacted with her. One of the more important themes from this movie most likely comes from the fact that out of all of the main characters, she was the only one who embraced life instead of money.

“So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here you are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.” – Fargo (1996)

My first impression of Mike Yanagita: “Why the hell is he even in this movie?” Well, after careful thought, it’s not Mike Yanagita’s psyche we should care about, but Marge’s. Before meeting with Mike, Marge was naive about people. She answered that phone call at 11:30 pm and met with this guy without any second thoughts. I know she’s a cop and all, but really? Well, after meeting with Mike and hearing that he had lied about everything he told her, her views had changed about people. She started to understand that people aren’t always going to be completely honest or cooperative, even with a pregnant woman. This is most likely why during that second visit with Lundegaard, she came to her senses.
Was this my favorite movie in the world? No. Was it awesomely gory? No.¬† I will say that it left me wondering, but it also left me satisfied, and that’s a good thing.

Pros:

  • The dark comedy/crime mixed plot
  • Steve Buscemi-hilarious
  • The character of Marge Gunderson is compelling
  • The music score
  • The accents (Yah)
  • I enjoyed each character’s (even Jerry’s) involvement with the film

Cons:

  • Why would you say this is a true story when it’s not? (Oh, Coen brothers…)
  • Never really explained how Jerry’s wife was killed-I need closure!
  • Not a movie I’d see again

Overall Rating: 7/10