Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen
I want to start off by letting you know this, Fargo is not based on a true story. I have to say so because for almost 20 years now my dad and I have argued over it relentlessly. There have been stories in Fargo, North Dakota that parallel the events in this movie but that does not mean the film was based on them. You can find stories that parallel the story in this film in nearly every city in the US. There are always men trying to kill their wives and coming up with wild scenarios in order to avoid the blame. The Coen brothers labeled this a true story in an effort to get the viewer more emotionally invested in the story. It worked too because plenty of people believed it to be a true story. For years there were idiot people searching the back roads of the region in an effort to find the money buried by Steve Buscemi‘s character. Of course it hardly matters whether the events in this film ever happened or not, it takes nothing away from the film that it is fictional. There are many films that claim to be based off a true story though in an effort to get people more interested in it. The most immediate example that comes to mind is 2008’s The Strangers which claims to be based on a true story. It most definitely is not to the relief of us all and was actually loosely based off the Manson Family killings of the 60s, which of course happened very differently. There are several films that use this technique to sucker viewers though, and I urge all of you to know that going into any film.
The thing about that disclaimer at the beginning is that it does set the tone for the film. It tells you that the film portrays events exactly as they happened and everything feels so real after that. It’s part of the genius of the Coen brothers, they are such good filmmakers. Their use of accents and locations is specifically interesting and part of what makes them so great. They are also great when it comes to casting. I have always been a big fan of Steve Buscemi and think that he was great as “the funny lookin guy.” He is a regular in Coen brother movies but this was his biggest and best role of all their movies he has been in. Peter Stormare, as Buscemi’s partner in crime, is specifically good as well in this film. He is so stone cold and suddenly violent that he really catches you off guard. He is a bad guy that might do anything at any moment. I have never been a big fan of Willaim H Macy, it’s something about the way he looks. He is great in this movie though and gives one of his best performances. He may get on my nerves but he is a good actor that has played a key role in many good movies. Frances McDormand won the Academy Award for best actress for her role in this film and it was well deserved. She plays such a down to Earth and honest character that nearly everyone fell in love with her. Her accent is so good too. She is the wife of Joel Coen and can be seen in many of his films.
This film is so intense and dramatic. You can feel the pressure that these characters are under and that is another part of what makes it feel so real. There are so many layers to the story that give it that feeling too. Such as the vagueness in which Macy’s character is in such dire need of money. It appears to be him just needing money desperately for the investment he wants to make but at times it is obvious there is much more to it than that. McDormand’s Marge and her awesome personality. She has a very interesting relationship with her husband and you can see there is more to the story there too. Who is Steve Buscemi’s character and why is he involved? Shep Proudfoot recommended Peter Stomare’s Grimsrud character to Macy, yet is was Buscemi who does all the talking and work. We never learn anything about the true relationship between those two.
This movie in many ways is the Coen brother’s big serious movie of the decade, as much as No Country For Old Men was their big serious movie of the 2000s. It was a great movie made by great filmmakers as so many of their films are. We will discuss the Coen brothers quite a bit during this journey through the DVD collection because we own many of their films. This is one that I always enjoy, it is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it I would strongly recommend it to anyone, it is worth your time.
I can still remember the first time I ever watched this movie. We were in college and Ryan had just introduced me to the Coen Brothers. I was completely blown away by this movie. In true Coen Brothers fashion the movie was extremely slow but captivating. The scenery is dead on, the accents are dead on, and the clothes and hair are immaculate. It is in these small details that really make the Brothers what they are.
My favorite part of this movie is when the cop goes to question the two girls that slept with the bad guys earlier in the film. I just completely love the dialogue that goes on during the whole exchange.
If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a damn shame. You should definitely make this one a priority.
NEXT MOVIE: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)