Fargo (1996)

10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great movie, great acting, great visuals


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Fargo

Studio:  PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  March 8, 1996

MPAA Rating:  R


Funny lookin? I don’t get it…

Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a sad sack down on his luck.  He’s let gambling debts pile-up and now people are gunning for him.  When he gets the idea to have his wife (Kristin Rudrud) kidnapped as a means to get the ransom money from his overbearing father-in-law Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell), everything seems perfect.  The problem is that the kidnappers Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) are forced to kill when pulled over by the police.  When a pregnant sheriff named Marge Gunderson (Francis McDormand) investigates the murderer, her simple approach might just what the case needs to uncover the truth.


Have you heard about the lonesome loser?

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Fargo was a black-comedy drama hailed by critics and nominated for multiple awards.  The movie received Academy Awards nominations for seven awards Best Picture (losing to The English Patient), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (William H. Macy), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and winning Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Original Screenplay.

Fargo is one of my top all-time movies.  It is a basic and raw crime drama with humor and a heart.  The writing on the film is so smart in its basic nature.  At the beginning of the film it is stated that it is based on a true story.  The Coen Brothers love to play with the idea that people will believe anything that is put on a slate.  The story has no basis in fact, but the weirdness of the “truth” helps add to the story as an audience member who are forced to believe the absurdity.


Seriously, I’m a officer of the law!

The clever script is accentuated by great acting.  Everyone is fantastic in their role.  William H. Macy is a great sorrowful guy who gets dumped on by everyone around him.  With this and Boogie Nights and Magnolia, I have a hard time seeing him as someone who can succeed.  Buscemi  is a perfect slimy little guy.  He read the script and thought he would wear a costume (he’s described as a funny looking guy), but the Coen Brothers told them they thought he’d just play like himself.  They are backed up by a great ensemble cast.

The star coming out of Fargo has to be Francis McDormand who earned her Supporting Actress Academy Award.  She had been around for years, but this movie really captured her humor and spirit.  Some could argue scenes like her encounter with her old classmate don’t really add to the plot, but it does add to the end of the story when she can’t comprehend the darkness in the world and why money corrupts people who could be good.  Every scene she is in is captivating.


Wood chipper? I thought you said leg chopper…my bad.

The Coen Bros. also capture the bleakness of the land and winter.  The cinematography for the movie does a great job with the snow, the light, and the darkness.  Scenes like the nighttime car wreck and murder are just as powerful as the open white of the snowy scenes.  It is cold and hard like the movie.

Fargo is an amazing blend of humor, comedy, and horror that gets it right.  It is my favorite Coen Brothers film, and every time I see a Coen Brothers movie I hope that it will reach these lofty heights.  Fargo did spawn a TV series in 2014 which aired on FX (and also stands on its own merits), but first check the original for a good laugh in a great dark comedy…ya!

Related Links:

Fargo—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Fargo—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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