Sunday, April 24, 2011
Movie Review: Fargo (1996)
A blood-soaked black comedy, Fargo is a captivating classic. Joel and Ethan Coen conjure up a mood of dark doom set against a bleak snow-covered landscape, enlivened by unforgettable personalities and rampant "Minnesota nice" behaviour.
While Carl is thoughtful and just wants to get the job done, Gaear is silent and prone to extreme violence. After a clumsy break-in Carl and Gaear do succeed in kidnapping Jean, but on the highway near the town of Brainerd they are stopped by a highway patrol officer. Gaear brutally kills the patrolman and, for good measure, two witnesses who happen to be driving by. A staged hostage-taking is transformed to a triple murder investigation.
Although the film opens with the claim that the events portrayed are factual, this is part of the Coens' humour. In fact, the movie is only loosely inspired by a vaguely similar incident that occurred in Connecticut. Equally unhinging is the name Fargo: one scene is set in that city, and the rest of the story takes place across the border in Minnesota.
Fargo draws its radiance from four unforgettable characters. Macy successfully portrays Lundegaard as a man so in over his head that he is uncomfortable in own skin, just one step ahead of total despair. Buscemi creates an almost sympathetic character in Carl, a criminal who can only be described by all who meet him as "kinda funny looking". Violent only when driven over the edge by the apparent ineptitude of others, Carl is dangerously funny and always foul-mouthed.
The Coens direct their own script with elegant understatement, allowing the scenery, the strength of the story, the exceptional characters and Carter Burwell's evocative soundtrack to breathe deep and confidently carry the film forward. Fargo's combination of character-driven comedy and cruelty is movie-making at its best.
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