The brothers Coen have succeeded in putting together a thrilling kidnap mystery. Set in snowy rural Minnesota, Fargo tells the story of a botched kidnapping plot hatched by an incompetent used car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (Macy), which is painstakingly and politely unravelled by ace trooper Marge Gunderson (Mc Dormand). Lundegaard hires two incompetent criminals (Buscemi, Stomrmare) to kidnap his wife and exact a ransom from her rich father. Minnesota is renown for being a particularly politely peopled place, and this film heaps niceties on you like spades, which is perhaps my favourite part of it.
William H. Macy … Jerry Lundegaard
Frances McDormand … Marge Gunderson
John Carroll Lynch … Norm Gunderson
Steve Buscemi … Carl Showalter
Peter Stormare … Gaear Grimsrud
Kristin Rudrüd … Jean Lundegaard
Harve Presnell … Wade Gustafson
Tony Denman … Scotty Lundegaard
The Coens are still a million miles from Hollywood staple, but with Fargo’s comic felicity, gun-packing coolness and ability to come up with the totally unexpected, they maintain their place among America’s most important filmmakers. Excellent. Empire
The dark and cold weigh down everything, and in the middle, in their warm cocoon, are Chief Marge and her hubby, Norm, the painter of ducks. Without them, “Fargo” might have been “In Cold Blood” laced with unseemly humor. The Coens sometimes seem to scorn their characters, but their love for Marge redeems “Fargo.” Marge is the catalyst, and her speech at the end is Shakespearean in the way it heals wounds and restores order…Roger Ebert
Fargo is a dense film of tremendous merit. The dogged pursuit of the truth and exposing of the pathetic criminals trying to dupe Gunderson was destined to end poorly. There are so many memorable scenes and tropes: the coldness of the third rate kidnappers as contrasted with the coldness of Lundergaard’s father in law (Presnell), the disappointment of Mr Gunderson’s performance in a duck painting competition and the constant unending nightmarish pressure on Lundegaard himself make this a special film. I recommend it very highly indeed.