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Poor Jerry Lundegaard. He's deep in debt. His wealthy father-in-law has no respect for him. He cheats customers at the car dealership where he works. And now he's hired a bumbling duo to kidnap his wife--a plan that goes horribly awry, leading to homicide. Enter Marge Gunderson, one of the most fabulous movie cops in film history. The very-pregnant Marge--played marvelously by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning and career-defining performance--just goes about her everyday business, eating (in nearly every scene), talking to the people in the community, and examining bloody corpses as if no day is different from the next. A multiple murder in the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota--home of Paul Bunyan, as the sign claims--seems to have little effect on her. Yet she has an innate cop sense--she is very, very good at her job and determined to solve the case in her offhanded manner.
FARGO is yet another offbeat, highly entertaining film from the Coen brothers (BARTON FINK, BLOOD SIMPLE). The film is nearly colorless; instead, director of photography Roger Deakins washes the screen in the blinding white of the snow, occasionally breaking for the drab grays and browns of police uniforms and winter jackets. Carter Burwell's score further enhances the slow, steady pace of this oddly funny and compelling film. The Coens have once again populated their film with a slew of bizarre characters, with outstanding performances delivered by all, particularly the edgy William H. Macy, the quietly luminous McDormand, the nearly psychotic Steve Buscemi, and the oh-so-cold Peter Stormare.
1996 - Academy Awards - Best Actress Winner
1996 - Academy Awards - Best Original Screenplay Winner
1996 - Cannes - Best Director Winner
Carter Burwell - American composer, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
William H. Macy - Stage/Film Actor, STATE AND MAIN (2000)
W. H. Macy - Stage/Film Actor, STATE AND MAIN (2000)
Ethan Coen - American producer/screenwriter/director
Joel Coen - American director/screenwriter/producer
Steve Buscemi - American Actor/Director/Screenwriter
Harve Presnell - Stage/Film Actor/Singer
Kristin Rudrud - Actress/"Fargo"
Roger Deakins - Director of Photography
Peter Stormare - Swedish Supporting Actor
Frances McDormand - American Actress
Jose Feliciano - Pop Singer/Musician
John Carroll Lynch
Steve Park - Actor
- Format: DVD
- Run Time: 108
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 027616884152
- Genre: Drama
- Rating: R (MPAA) (Violence and Language Adult Situations)
- Release Date: January 2005
The Coen brothers' black comedy revolves around a crime orchestrated by a desperate, debt-ridden man--and its unexpected results. In dire need of money, Jerry Lundegaard comes up with a plan: Hire two thugs to kidnap his wife, Jean; make Jean's rich father shell out the ransom; and then use the money to pay off both the kidnappers and his creditors. But what appears to be the perfect crime goes seriously awry when the goons murder three people after abducting Jean. As a result, they soon have an intelligent--and very pregnant--police chief named Marge Gunderson investigating the clues they've carelessly left behind. The criminals must now collect the ransom before Marge puts all the pieces together...but that turns out to be a lot harder than they thought.
Theatrical release: March 8, 1996. Filmed on location in North Dakota and Minnesota. Although the movie begins with a written announcement appearing on the screen that says the story is based on true events, newspaper articles said the film is fictional. The Coens eventually admitted that they did make the narrative up. FARGO is is number 84 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies and number 93 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Funniest Movies. The name listed in the credits for editor, Roderick Jaynes, is actually a pseudonym for filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen; they edit their films in addition to writing, producing, and directing them. Actress Frances McDormand, who starred in the Coen brothers' first film, BLOOD SIMPLE, is married to director Joel Coen. Steve Buscemi has appeared in numerous Coen brothers films, including MILLER'S CROSSING, BARTON FINK, and THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Bruce Campbell makes an uncredited appearance as a soap opera actor. When the film was edited for television, the word "frozen" was dubbed in to replace many of the curses. The poster on the back of Scott's bedroom door is for a man identified as the "Accordian King"; the word "accordion" is misspelled. The accents used by the cast upset many people from Minnesota and North Dakota, who thought they were being made fun of. However, the Coens themselves were born in Minnesota. Bruce Campbell makes an uncredited cameo in the film.
"...A terrific, twisted comedy....A dazzling mix of mirth and malice....McDormand wins your heart..." - 03/21/1996 Rolling Stone, p.104
"...The Coens prove themselves masters of orchestrating cross-purposes plots....FARGO is a further demonstration of Joel Coen's remarkable ability to mix comedy with horror..." - 06/01/1996 Sight and Sound, p.40-1
"...McDormand's uproariously sly-spry performance connects with Roger Deakins' bleakly beautiful photography to create one of the Coens' most consistently successful outings..." -- 3 out of 4 stars - 03/08/1996 USA Today, p.7D
"...FARGO is a strikingly mature, unique entertainment that plays on many levels...all satisfying..." - 02/12/1996 Variety
"...With the perfect assist from their actors, all of whom are well in on the joke, this affectionate look at the frozen North brings the Coens back in from the cold..." - 03/08/1996 Los Angeles Times, p.F1
"...A great movie....FARGO is true toe the rhythms of small-town life....William H. Macy's performance is an implosion of fear and frustration..." - 04/15/2001 Chicago Sun-Times, p.5