Ah, hon, ya got Arby's all over me
When a movie like Fargo comes along, you almost donít know how to react. All of the different genres, emotions and categories that you could slap on it still could not give the uninitiated a solid description of the film. The intensity is mixed with the mundane. The comedy is mixed with the tragedy. It is a lot to digest at first, but when the dust settles, the true genius of the whole product is made clear. Fargo may be a film that is challenging, but more importantly it is one that is rewarding.
The movie begins with a man named Jerry who is having financial problems and needs to come up with money quickly. A series of fortunate (or unfortunate) events leads him to be introduced to two criminals, Carl and Gaear, who are to help him come up with big money fast. The plan is for them to kidnap Jerryís wife and then Jerry will collect half of the ransom money he gets from his wealthy father-in-law, Wade Gustafson. Unknown to his father-in-law, Jerry plans on asking for much more money so he can ultimately keep most of it. What this leads to is many situations that do not go according to plan, for any party involved. Fargo is not about simple answers and happy endings; it is about the realities of our choices, and the consequences that accompany them.
Everything is encapsulated by the humor, the conflict, and the indifference to it all. Most all of the characters in this movie have such a charm to them that is almost robotic. You watch these people and they are always happy and friendly, never missing an opportunity to share a smile and a helping hand. This never changes throughout the film, as it would appear that the people of Fargo do not have even one negative bone in their bodies. Here we have a situation involving murder, yet everyone in Fargo just continues business as usual.
All of these characters are beautifully brought to life thanks to the fantastic cast. Frances McDormand was absolutely phenomenal as Marge, a 7-month pregnant cop. Sheís got a baby ready to pop and is dealing with a murder case, yet she always maintains a happy and upbeat demeanor. I end up smiling every time she talks, because it is delivered with such a funny yet adorable accent that everyone who lives in Fargo has. To completely offset McDormandís character, you have Steve Buscemi as Carl Showalter and Peter Stormare as Gaear Grimsrud, the criminals that are the main antagonists of the film. Steve Buscemi delivers the comic-relief, always complaining or making a snide remark about something, while Peter Stormare is the sullen, tight-lipped accomplice that always gives you the feeling that he may suddenly crack and do something vicious. They are an interesting duo, but it is this strange companionship that makes them all the more compelling. How do these two work together? They just do.
Perhaps the most interesting and complex character in Fargo is Jerry Lundegaard, played by William H. Macy. Heís the one that has the world on his shoulders, and the one that is forced to make some big decisions that will affect those he loves. He is trying to take care of his family, while at the same time putting them directly in harms way. His situation is so confusing and stressful that you canít help but hope that everything will work out for him, even if his actions arenít always noble. William H. Macy plays this role perfectly, showing us a troubled man who has a pitiful, goofy charm that is so endearing.
The Coen bros. definitely reached for the stars with Fargo, and I can honestly say that the ambition translated wonderfully in this film. The fact that they were so effortlessly able to mix humor, drama, action and mystery into one film and have it flow so seamlessly is incredible. Add to this the fantastic cast and Fargo ends up being an experience unlike many others. This is an expertly crafted film, one that has every possible flavor on the menu, all blended into one heck of a delicious beverage. Now drink up, yah?