Tuesday, November 22, 2011


(March 1996, U.S.)

The Coen Brothers' dark comedy-crime film FARGO is considered one of the best films of their career. That, of course, is up to the viewer to decide. Personally, I think they hit the mark beautifully with their debut film BLOOD SIMPLE (1984). FARGO is one of those experiences where you simply can't help but laugh at extremely quirky characters like sleazy car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (played by William H. Macy), pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (played by Frances McDormand) or "funny lookin" small time criminal Carl Showalter (played by Steve Buscemi). Yet, at the same time, you can't help but be repelled by the bloody violence and shocking murders that takes place on the screen and those that are motivated by financial greed.

From the moment we meet Jerry, we already know that there's something about him we don't like. As it turns out, he's in deep financial trouble and will stoop to the act of hiring a couple of sleazeball criminals to kidnap his wife in order to get the ransom money from his wealthy father in-law which he'll split with the kidnappers. But of course, as cliche (and perhaps even true story accounts), things go horribly wrong and blood begins to spill. The murders in question are investigated by our above-mentioned pregnant local police chief Marge. She quickly deduces the chain of events and follows the leads that arise, interviewing two quirky (and considerably UGLY!) prostitutes who serviced the criminals and tracing the license plates on the criminals' vehicle to Jerry's auto dealership. Not good for Jerry! The climax is not only intruiging because you're actually rather impressed by what this hero pregnant cop is capable of, but you also can't believe you're watching the wood chipper scene, despite knowing the violence that criminal Gaear Grimsrud (Carl's silent piece-of-shit partner and played chillingly by Peter Stormare) is evidently capable of. The real ending that you may not expect is the final scene of Marge in bed with her loving husband as they sweetly tell each other "I love you." That is so cliche, so old fashioned, perhaps even borderline stupid in the "Hollywood happy ending" sense, and yet somehow, it seems to make sense at the end of the rather insane day that Marge has had. Go figure.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Marge Gunderson: "Okay. I wantcha to tell me what these fellas looked like."
Hooker: "Well, the little guy, he was kinda funny lookin'."
Marge: "In what way?"
Hooker: "I don't know. Just funny lookin'."
Marge: "Can ya be any more specific?"
Hooker: "I couldn't really say. He wasn't circumcised."
Marge: "Was he funny lookin' apart from that?"
Hooker: "Yah."
Marge: "So you were havin' sex with the little fella, then?"
Hooker: "Uh-huh."
Marge: "Is there anything else you can tell me about him?"
Hooker: "No. Like I say, he was funny lookin'. More that most peopel even."

1 comment:

  1. The reason that Marge and her husband's scene at the end works is because it is consistent with the attitude of the Chief. She is a average person with a good heart, one who we admire for persevering in the face of all kinds of obstacles. She is grounded despite the fact she has just witnessed something so horrifying in the wood chipper. I didn't think it was an attempt to put a happy ending on the movie, it was just true to the character, a person we all rooted for during the story.