Fargo is a 1996 black comedy crime thriller written and directed by The Coen Brothers (I know what Wikipedia says) and stars Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Harve Presnell and Peter Stormare. The film follows a pregnant police chief who investigates two roadside homicides.
This film has one of the coolest opening cards of all time. I had to put that out there and now I have. But, the coolness does not end there. The film plays itself into the collective consciousness of the world with an iconic score and spellbinding cinematography. All this happens within the first three minutes. The film wraps me up in its world within that short a time. I’m sold.
My fanboying aside, this film works so well because of its authenticity. The film feels like it is a product of its setting and not something forced into a location to give it a quirky feel. The cold town in North Dakota, the homely folk from there, how unpretentious the people and their dialogues are, how unassuming their lives are, how the film does not follow usual Hollywood tropes to make small town people idiots, all this and so much more makes this film tower above most others. One can easily lose themselves in the plot and characters of the film because these are people we all know. We’ve seen them, we’ve met them, we’ve spoken to them and we can relate to them. They are all around us and they are inside us as well. All of us have been morally sound police chief Marge Gunderson and sociopath Gaear Grimsrud in our minds at one instance or the other. We have been desperate shmuck Jerry Lundegard and power-toting Wade Gustafson at some or the other points in our lives.
The film plays these characters out beautifully with an underlying sense of humor to all of them. This would not have been an easy film to watch if it was helmed by lesser directors because the humor and the heart need to be there without making them overbearing for the simple reason that, that’s how people are. The strength of The Brothers, Coen is that they have their charming way of making the gigantic, small and the small, truly compelling. I could watch this film for days without getting bored as I would just be exploring sides to my own personality while watching the characters do their thing. This film will most definitely play differently for every other person who reads this but that is the beauty of cinema for me and great films are supposed to work that way. What I see as an exploration of psyche could work as an out and out crime thriller for the person sitting next to me.
I’m just a fan of this film and have been for the longest time. This might not be the Coen’s best film but it is still damn near perfect. I’m always left with #lifegoals as the end credits roll. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I want to strive to have the clear moral spectrum of Marge and experience the kind of relationship that her husband shares with her and they share with their community at large.
Life is truly more than just a little bit of money.