• James Rutherford

‘Fargo’: The Coen Brothers’ Landmark Midwestern Dark Comedy-Thriller


Movie poster for the film Fargo starring Frances McDormand and William H. Macy

“Fargo” (1996) is a quirky and dynamic dark-comedy thriller about a used car salesman’s seedy plot to have his wife kidnapped in order to collect an $80,000 ransom—only for his poorly orchestrated scheme to go awry nearly every step of the way.


Desperate for funds, Oldsmobile sales manager Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) manufactures a false business loan backed by nonexistent cars from his dealership and quickly garners the suspicions of his debtors. Their inquisitions drive him to plot out his wife’s kidnapping with the assumption that her wealthy father Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell) will deliver the cash necessary to release her—a plan he initiates through a pair of nefarious criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare). Neither Jerry nor his accomplices anticipate the incursion of pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) however—the steadfast and implacable hero of the story.


Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (“The Big Lebowski”, “No Country For Old Men”), “Fargo” is unique and wholly laudable cinematic feat, seamlessly blending eccentricity, pitch black satire and intermittent sequences of fierce violence. McDormand shines radiantly in her Academy Award-winning performance, delivering a wonderfully humane portrayal of a tenacious and entirely resolute law enforcement professional. Top-notch entertainment every step of the way—it’s one of the very best films of the 1990’s altogether.

 

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