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Fargo (1996)
Rated R

Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi

Rating:
*****
out of
*****

The Coen Brothers are responsible for some of the weirdest movies to come down the pike in Hollywood history. Movies like Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing are examples of their sheer, odd genius. Fargo is their best and most coherent work to date.

To give too much of the plot away would be a crime (no pun intended). Allegedly based on a true story, the movie tells the story of car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), who has gotten himself into serious debt. His father-in-law is a millionaire, so Jerry devises a way to have his wife kidnapped by two thugs, Carl and Gaear (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare), with whom he'll split the ransom money. One thing after another goes wrong with this plan and Jerry, who's not exactly quick-witted, is forced to handle everything as it crumbles down around him.

As a result of one of the mishaps in this scheme, three people are murdered by Gaear. Pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is called in to investigate and the movie follows her as she pieces the puzzle of the crime together.

What makes the film so interesting is the dialogue, complete with an odd sort of Scandinavian/Midwest dialect and accent, which is perfectly suited to the sort of twisted story that's being told. In contrast to characters that can scheme and plot horrible crimes, we have characters that say things like "your dirn tootin'." It's odd, but strangely unique.

William H. Macy, who's been a regular in David Mamet's plays and movies, is fantastic as Jerry Lundegaard. His performance is deserving of the Academy Award nomination it received and hopefully will propel him to greater stardom. Frances McDormand, who's Marge Gunderson is a calm, methodical investigator with a lot of spunk and determination, rightly won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Steve Buscemi, who seems to have cornered the market on slimy weasel characterizations, is perfect for his role as well. The casting for this movie could not have been more dead-on.

Fargo is a movie that is, at times, violent and horrific as it reveals what some people will do for a little money. It also shows, in the form of Marge Gunderson and her husband, that life can be a pleasant enough thing that money really isn't that big a deal.

Roger Ebert has said that Fargo is a movie that reminds him of why he loves movies. I'd have to say that I agree 100% with Mr. Ebert on that call. Don't pass this one over!

Trivia: Filming of outdoor scenes had to be constantly moved all over Minnesota, North Dakota, and Canada because spring was approaching and the snow kept melting too fast. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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