Fargo is one of the sharpest Coen Brothers movies. In fact, it’s one of the sharpest dark comedies ever.
The movie begins saying it is based on a true story. This is not true, but the red herring fooled even police officers at the time. At its core, Fargo is a story about money. A weaselly car salesman, played by fantastic William H. Macy, has a scheme to fake the kidnapping of his wife to get her rich father to pay the ransom. He pays two criminals, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, to accomplish this task. Then, everything goes pear shaped; innocent people get killed and nothing is going to plan. Enter a pregnant officer, Frances McDormand, to put the pieces together.
Of course there is much more to the meandering plot that is both hilarious and brutally violent, sometimes simultaneously. While the Coens had made fantastic movies before Fargo, making Fargo was their first truly great film in my opinion. The characters, dialogue, setting, plot, noir sensibilities, and humor we have come to expect from their films are all present and in full bloom. The Minnesotan accents and cheeriness make for a lighthearted backdrop on what is a decidedly dark film.
As with the best films, multiple viewings of Fargo unearth new secrets with each successful viewing. Fargo‘s plot is fairly simple at a high level, but close up is quite complex. Fargo is a fantastic film, my second favorite Coen movie only to The Big Lebowski. But more on that later…
I give it 5 wood chippers out of 5.