Quick Hit: Dark and hilarious, this film put the Coen brothers firmly on the map for good reason.
Yeah? We’re definitely reviewing Fargo, the Coen brother’s classic film and let’s just say it’s going to be hard for me to review. I really love this movie – I think the humor is spot on, the acting is overly tremendous, and the plot is simple and familiar, but also fresh and exciting. So, without further ado, I’ll attempt to talk about the greatness that is Frances McDormand and the rest of Brainerd, Minnesota.
Let’s talk about the simplicity of the plot. We’ve all seen movies about guys that get put into a tough spot, and need to figure a way out. The idea of a slightly sleezy guy faking a crime isn’t that unheard of in films, it’s practically a trope. The writing is smooth and easy though, and lulls us into the world. The humor is sly and loving, especially in its embrace of small-town living in the northern U.S. But it also understands its actors best qualities, and paints the characters to be real people. And while the movie may be centered around Marge Gunderson, there’s another guy whose performance hinges the movie’s success.
When you hire William H. Macy to be that guy, you get something special. Macy was hot off of several theater performances here, and his stage prescence shows. His Jerry Lundegaard is full of frantic, manic energy – which worsens as he gets more and more nervous. You can tell the worst he’s probably ever done prior to this is gamble too much, and he’s not exactly a smooth criminal. Never once does he seem truly dangerous, besides that he’s obviously willing to go to huge lengths to accomplish his goals. That’s an extremely delicate line for an actor to walk, but there are no missteps here. He missed out on the Best Supporting Actor to Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire – I think both are deserving, so no hard feelings here.
But darn tootin’ – Marge Gunderson as created by Frances McDormand is a wonder. A pregnant sheriff in a small town could have been played completely for laughs, and at times it is – “Not sure if I’m gonna throw up” – but she’s such an extremely complex character. Given a small town life, with a small town husband, and enjoying her eggs that are made after a night of watching tv in her small town bed… this moment could have been way too big for her. But instead she uses that unassuming image to craft an intelligent woman who is surrounded by ineptitude, who manages to essentially solve a dangerous case all on her own. And she does all this while waddling around pregnant. Impressive does not even describe how great Ms. McDormand’s performance is here.
The supporting cast all hold their own, with Buscemi playing his typical loud mouthed criminal. One of the funny scenes I think I’ve seen ever is him attempting to not talk to his partner Gaear Grimsrud. I die every time in this scene. I think what’s wonderful about the supporting case (I’m not going to attempt to name them all for fear of length of the post) is how despite limited screen time, they all manage to create fully fleshed out characters.
So, I will say that this is a movie that is perfectly balanced between light and dark, between humor and between drama, and with more “yeahs?” than you can shake a stick at. I love it, and I think you will too, my wonderful readers. I’m giving Fargo an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"