Fargo

Fargo

4.6 23
Director: Joel Coen

Cast: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi

     
 

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Filmmaking siblings Joel Coen and Ethan Coen both embraced and poked satirical fun at their Minnesotan roots with this comedy-drama-thriller that earned seven Oscar nominations, winning for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. Frances McDormand stars as Marge Gunderson, a pregnant police chief whose affable, folksy demeanor masks a whip-smart mind. When a pair… See more details below

Overview

Filmmaking siblings Joel Coen and Ethan Coen both embraced and poked satirical fun at their Minnesotan roots with this comedy-drama-thriller that earned seven Oscar nominations, winning for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. Frances McDormand stars as Marge Gunderson, a pregnant police chief whose affable, folksy demeanor masks a whip-smart mind. When a pair of motorists are found slain not far from the corpse of a state trooper, Marge begins piecing together a case involving a pair of dopey would-be kidnappers, Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Bergman stock player Peter Stormare). They've been hired by Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a car salesman under the thumb of his wealthy, overbearing boss and father-in-law, Wade (Harve Presnell). Jerry's raised some money illegally through a petty scam he's run on General Motors and he's about to get caught. When Wade sours a business deal that could save his son-in-law's hide, the desperate Jerry hires Carl and Gaear to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom. Things go predictably wrong and a series of murders occur, with Marge, waddling along behind her enormous belly and ever-hungering for an all-you-can-eat buffet, hot on the trail of the killers. Although the credits for Fargo state that the film is loosely based on real events, the story is entirely fictional, the claim being just an ironic jibe on the part of the Coens.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
The Coen brothers (Blood Simple, Barton Fink) scored their biggest critical success with this darkly funny thriller set in a small, winter-bound Minnesota town. The story revolves around a kidnapping that goes awry and the efforts of a quiet, efficient -- and very pregnant -- Fargo police chief (Frances McDormand) to solve a series of increasingly gruesome murders. McDormand won an Oscar for her marvelously understated portrayal of a kind-hearted, coffee-swilling sleuth, but the whole cast -- including William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi -- is superb, delivering the kind of offbeat, stylized performances that are a Coen brothers trademark. Music by regular Coen collaborator Carter Burwell sets a moody tone, beautifully evoking the long nights and frozen expanses of a Minnesota winter. Holding it all together is the directors' complete confidence in their own sensibility; despite the film's mainstream recognition -- it got an Oscar nomination for best picture -- Fargo shows no hint of Hollywood compromise. The film is distinguished by the brothers' unique and very black sense of humor, right down to the foot poking out of the wood chipper.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Fargo never seems to make up its mind if it wants to be an absurdist comedy or a stylized crime drama, and that's a big part of its charm: somehow it manages to be both at the same time. While the movie never shies away from the grim facts or consequences of the kidnapping and multiple murders at the core of the narrative, Fargo does manage to skate playfully into a dryly comic look at life in the frozen wastes of Minnesota, where cuisine is ruled by the buffet and folks really say "You betcha!" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, former Minnesotans themselves, understand the physical and emotional landscape of the little town of Brainerd, and they seem to laugh both with it and at it; while they can't help but find humor in the nasal, Nordic drawl and implacably low-key nature of these people, Joel and Ethan seem genuinely to like them -- especially Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand, in a deservedly Oscar-winning performance), whose perversely sunny disposition only partially obscures the fact that she's a clever, observant, and very effective cop. The Coens have even more fun (though of an edgier variety) with Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi, who steals every scene he's in), a weasely crook whose every word and gesture screams, "I'm Not From Around Here." Despite the film's assured comic sensibility, the Coens bring a nail-biting tension to the murder scenes, and William H. Macy's Jerry Lundergaard is a pathetically compelling mass of misguided motivation and bad choices. While most of their films are remarkable for a gymnastic visual style, the Coen brothers give Fargo a stark, clean look that's the perfect match for the chilly near-monochrome of the snowy Midwestern landscape; Fargo looks less like a Coen brothers film than anything else they've done, while defining their signature themes as clearly as anything else they've done.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/01/2014
UPC:
0883904306832
Original Release:
1996
Rating:
R
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:38:00
Sales rank:
16,507

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Roger A. Deakins; Trivia track; Still photo gallery; Minnesota Nice featurette; American Cinematographer article

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Frances McDormand Marge Gunderson
William H. Macy Jerry Lundegaard
Steve Buscemi Carl Showalter
Peter Stormare Gaear Grimsrud
Harve Presnell Wade Gustafson
John Carroll Lynch Norm Gunderson
Kristin Rudrud Jean Lundegaard
Larry Brandenburg Stan Grossman
Stephen Park Mike Yanagita
Cliff Rakerd Officer Olson
Steve Reevis Shep Proudfoot
Bruce Campbell Soap Opera Star on TV
José Feliciano Himself
Sharon Anderson Morning Show Hostess
Gary Houston Irate Customer
Keith Warren Reilly Diefenbach

Technical Credits
Joel Coen Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Tim Bevan Executive Producer
John Blake Makeup
Michelangelo Csaba Bolla Asst. Director
Carter Burwell Score Composer
Allan Byer Sound/Sound Designer
John Cameron Producer
Ethan Coen Producer,Screenwriter
Roger Deakins Cinematographer
Eric Fellner Executive Producer
Lauri Gaffin Set Decoration/Design
Rick Heinrichs Production Designer
Roderick Jaynes Editor
John Lyons Casting
Paul Murphy Special Effects
Thomas D. Wilkins Art Director
Mary Zophres Costumes/Costume Designer

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