Jerry Lundegaard, an Oldsmobile salesman, meets with two henchmen like ex-convicts in Fargo, N. Dakota to scheme an end his financial troubles. The plan is to kidnap Jerry's wife, Jean for a ransom of $80,000 which they will then split when she is returned unharmed, as well as a new car from his dealership. The next trick up Jerry's sleeve is to tell his father-in-law and boss, Wade Gustafson, about the kidnap, say it's too dangerous to go to the police and that the ransom is 1 million dollars! He would then convince Wade to give him the money and pocket the rest to put an end to his debts. When the plan takes off - things take a dreadful turn.
WINNER of 2 OSCARS:
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
NOMINATED for 4 OSCARS:
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: William H. Macy
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Best Director: Joel Coen
Best Film Editing : Ethan Coen (as Roderick Jaynes), Joel Coen (as Roderick Jaynes)
This film was a huge success for the Coen brothers in the 90's. It is a dark horse film that caught fire just in time for Oscar recognition. This film was praised for many things, everything from: its quirky plot, to "the funny lookin' one", to the adorable Minnesota accent affectionately overused throughout the film. But what stands out the most is the hero in the film, Police Chief Marge Gunderson, played by Francis Mcdormand. The 7 month pregnant cop wakes up in the wee hours of the morning to investigate a triple homicide which would lead to a twirling spiral of events. No matter how gruesome the scene in frontof her, Marge was never phased by it, showing that she was muchstronger then her male counterpart. Showing smarts wise beyond her years, or county district for that matter, she is able to get her man, although leaving a bloody trail behind.
Fargo was also credited for reviving the dark comedy genre. How they made the kidnapping of a wife and the death of many innocent people humorous I have no idea, but somehow the Coen brothers pulled it off brilliantly winning two Oscars for best screen play and best actress.
William H. Macy is also brilliant in this break out role playing Jerry Lundegaard. As Jerry's perfect plan soon takes multiple turns for the worse, the desperate car salesman unravels into the fraud that he is.
Another exceptional performance comes from the eccentric Steve Buscemi as Carl Showalter, the loud mouthed scrawny know it all crook hired by Jerry is the comedy in the film. No doubt about that, right Margie?
This film intrigues you in its first seconds by a simple slate, which states "THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred." However the film is completely fictional.
Apparently, the The Coen brothers took several news stories andcombined them into one story, so the events are real but thecharacters and plot are totally imagined. Some people find thisincredibly creative.
I personally felt a bit cheated finding this out after watching it. Either way it will go in history as one of the Coen Brothers triumphs and one of the best off beat films of the 90's.