DVD Vault: Fargo

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 08, 2009 7:30 AM

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DVD Vault: Fargo (1996)

Fargo is great, don’t-cha-know?

Winner of two Oscars, Fargo is a dark comedy set in a bleak and freezing Midwestern town. The movie spins together a mess of unlikely genres (crime drama, satirical comedy, and violent thriller) making it both hilarious and disturbing, simple and complex, bizarre and familiar all at once.

The story follows the financially-desperate car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), who hires two men (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife and hold her ransom for $1 million. Turns out the hired men are bumbling idiots from Fargo, N.D., and homespun mayhem ensues.

Three accidental homicides later, the very-pregnant Chief Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is on the small-town case, and she’s determined to solve it — no matter how unusual her methods may be.

What’s best about this movie is the characters: The pathetic Macy, the warm-hearted McDormand and her casual investigation of graphic crime scenes, and the quirky locals with their flat Minnesotan accidents. All the “you betchas” and “yahs” and “okie-dokes” are injected into brilliantly played deadpan humor.

It’s no surprise this cast of absurd characters was born in the minds of the always-offbeat Coen Brothers, who were almost unanimously praised for this work by critics worldwide.

It’s easy to go back to this movie again and again and pull out new nuances to appreciate. Even the movie’s lighting is deliberately oddball — the film is a wash of blinding-white snow and brown and gray winter jackets. No matter how many times I watch, I remain convicted in the fact that I’ve never laughed harder at kidnapping, larceny, and murder.

At the beginning, Fargo claims to be a “true story” based on an actual murder case, and the end makes one want to call up those tricky film brothers and say, Aww jeez, you Coens … darn-tootin’ played with me from the get-go and I gosh-darn loved it, yahhhh.

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