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Tuesday, June 3, 2008


One of the best movies I have watched this summer is the Coen brothers' 1996 classic Fargo.It is at once a crime/noir thriller as well as a dark comedy.The brothers Ethan and Joel Coen,collectively known as the "two-headed director" have made films ranging from screwball comedy to dark,intense,often bizarrely violent thrillers.

Fargo is an actual American town in North Dakota.It is here that the central character of the film Jerry Lundegaard(played brilliantly by William H.Macy) meets and hires Carl Showalter(Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud(Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife.This way he plans to end his financial troubles by making his rich father-in-law pay up the ransom.But things go awry when the sociopathic Grimsrud kills three people,including a cop,on the highway,after the kidnapping had been done.

The real knockout performance of the film comes from Frances McDormand who plays Marge Gunderson,the seven-month pregnant local police chief handling the investigation.She seems to be comically naive at first(her scenes with her husband are the epitome of small-town humour,which is juxtaposed nicely with the increasing violence and bloodshed pervading the other characters' lives),but she comes up with some kickass detective work on the crime scene and during the following investigation

The film uses some interesting comic set-pieces,like the way everyone who comes across Showalter describes him as "kinda funny-looking" , and the rather distinctive accent of many of the actors,coupled with similar mannerisms and turns of phrase.These are dovetailed nicely with the increasingly violent exploits of Showalter and especially the spooky Grimsrud who seems like an early sign of things to come from the Coen brothers,what with the unforgettable Anton Chigurh in last year's Oscar-sweeping No Country For Old Men.

Fargo is a thoroughly entertaining and exceptionally well-made film.It went on two win two Oscars,one for Frances McDormand for Best Actress,and one for the Coen Brothers themselves,for the best original screenplay. These were richly deserved and for those who thought No Country For Old Men was too dull, too slow or too grim,I will say two things-
1)You are wrong.

2)Go watch Fargo,anyway.

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