Fargo

Director: Joel Coen

1996

“One speciality of sibling partners Joel and Ethan Coen is twisting time-honored Hollywood genres into flamboyant, contemporary delights. The foremost filmmakers to emerge from America in the 1980s, their best films still look great, and their devilishly clever Fargo is among their very best. It’s a wicked tale that provokes gasps of admiration and shock along with belly laughs. Embezzlement, abduction, deceit, misunderstanding, and murder are all in the frame, as is another regular feature of the Coenesque experience – a crime that gets totally out of control.” (850, Angela Errigo, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

Fargo Joel CoenThere are very few Coen Brothers movies that I would actually consider myself a fan of, only really True Grit (2010) and The Big Lebowski (1998), both of which have Jeff Bridges in. Having said that not only do I very much want to see Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) but have also seen a surprising amount of their films. Fargo however is not one of their films that I would say I enjoyed. It was one of the films that had been on my list to watch (and not just because it was in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) but I had been dragging my feet when it came to actually sitting down and watching it. The push for me was the announcement that there is to be a television series of Fargo with Martin Freeman in the role that saw “[…] William H. Macy in the anxious performance that lifted him from ever-useful character actor to eagerly sought character actor.” (850)

As much as I find myself drifting when I watch Coen Brothers films I find myself  equally as disengaged with William H. Macy which does cause somewhat of a problem when watching Fargo because not only am I watching a Coen Brothers film but it also had Macy as the lead.  One of the most distracting elements of the film for me was the regional accent employed by the majority of the cast. “But most of the film, impishly introduced as a true story in the first of its macabre deceptions, is set in the austere, snowy landscapes of the Coen’s native Minnesota (where the exaggerated regional dialect amusingly employed in hilariously banal chitchat is a flat, singsong relic of the area’s Scandinavian immigrant pioneers, and at absurd odds with the heinous goings-on.)” (850) It was an accent that just did not sit well aurally. And ultimately it just pulled me out of the film unfortunately.

“Enter Frances McDormand (Mrs Joel Coen) absolutely fantastic as the very pregnant, comically ordinary but sharp small-town police chief, Marge Gunderson. Resolutely conducting her first triple homicide investigation with unhurried waddle and droll aplomb, Marge is easily the most engaging character every conceived by the Coens.” (850) Frances McDormand is as Angela Errigo says, the most engaging character in Fargo. She is the heart of the film and really so much more than she appears at first glance. Marge is probably the one element of the film that I actually found myself engaging with.

At least now I can say that I have seen Fargo, even if I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. I am however intrigued to see how this new show will play with a very different cast. I’m hoping that I find myself more engaged with it as Martin Freeman is one of those actors that grows on me with every project that I watch.

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