Fargo (1996) – Film Review


Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare and Harve Presnell

Directed by Joel Coen

IMDB Rating: 8.2

Review written by Rachel Geiger

This classic movie is dark, violent, and also filled with some unique humor. This film still stands out to me as being one of the top films because of how unique the story is. With this work, the prestigious Coen brothers have made easily one of the best movies in their impressive catalog. It’s just one of those movies that you have to watch at least once.

A car salesmen (William Macy) is desperate for money so he can do a major business deal. He then decides to hire a couple of criminals (Buscemi and Stormare) to kidnap his wife so her rich father (Presnell) will easily pay the bail and he will get some money out of it. The kidnapping doesn’t go according to plan once they are out on the road and a couple of people wind up dead. This leads to a big investigation from the pregnant police chef Marge Gunderson (McDormand) who becomes dedicated to the case.

The story of Fargo comes from the brilliantly twisted minds of Joel and Ethan Coen. This brother team is known for their dark humor and all together classic films that are much respected. The plot can be difficult to explain without revealing too much about the film. However, this is still a great movie that is never boring to watch. The subplots within the film can be a little difficult to follow but for the most part, it’s easy to catch everything once you learn more about the different characters and what their individual purpose is. Each character is brilliantly developed and well captured on screen. It’s really violent and can be hard to watch with all the gruesome stuff going on. But if you’re a fan of these directors, you probably realize that anything is possible, even violence to this degree.

The acting is definitely what brings the story to life. There isn’t a bad acting performance in the movie. Although the Minnesota accents seem a little exaggerated at times, it seems as if it’s just enhancing the character and giving them more personality so it works. Frances McDormand is absolutely perfect as the determined police chief. She won an Oscar for her performance and it’s not hard to see why. She sticks to her accent and enthusiasm for her job and life in general throughout the whole movie. William Macy does a fantastic job with his role of Jerry, who is somehow sympathetic despite his pretty awful actions which you have to give Macy credit for. The two criminals bring the drama and are also really well acted by Buscemi and Stormare. Buscemi is the annoying criminal who never stops talking (which is ironic if you’ve ever seen another Coen brothers movie he starred in, The Big Lebowski) and the silent but deadly partner of his.

As I’ve already rambled on about, the Coen brothers are great directors who are well respected in the film industry. They have conducted a really timeless classic and the beautiful sights of Minnesota definitely contribute to that. In these films of there’s, everything is so well thought out and little details most directors wouldn’t view as significant are viewed as such to them. As listed above, Joel directed this by himself but his brother Ethan produced and the two both wrote the movie together so I think it’s safe to say they were both very much actively involved in this film.

This is a complicated yet iconic film that is still wonderful after multiple viewings. You can’t help but appreciate how every little element works together so effortlessly to make this such a quality movie. The characters, even the minor ones, are well developed and thoughtful which isn’t really that common in most films but this one is a memorable masterpiece that is noted as one of the best movies of all time.

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