DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
The sombre and twisted comedy-crime classic has now just received a 25-anniversary commemorative reissue, and it feels as pristine as fresh blood on white snow - in selected cinemas and also on VoD

The Coen Brothers’ black-comic crime gem ploughs back into cinemas for its 25th anniversary and proves as charming, perceptive and downright dazzling as it did on its release in 1996. To recap, the thriller sees a debt-ridden car salesman (William H. Macy) hire a pair of bumbling criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife (Kristin Rudrüd) in order to extort ransom money from his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell). What could possibly go right?

Viewed through modern eyes, Fargo appears to be the missing link between Quentin Tarantino and Martin McDonagh. From the former it takes a twitchy Buscemi, quirky dialogue and accidental bloodshed; in the latter it inspires deep pathos, regional dialect and Frances McDormand. Prompting flicks like In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008) and Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) to mine their accents and locations for comedy and sense of place, Fargo’s ingenious use of regional eccentricities creates what might best be described as a Midwestern; desolate, violent and unflinchingly polite.

From this collision of the cosy and chaotic the Coens find an existential squirminess akin to Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), with Macy’s poetically pathetic shyster at its core. There are great performances from Buscemi, Stormare and Steve Park in one particularly painful scene, but McDormand steals the show (despite only arriving in the second act) as the loveable and capable Marge Gunderson; unique in the genre by virtue of being pregnant and chipper, fearlessly waddling from corpse to buffet… to chipper.

The snowiest movie since The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980), Fargo is illuminated by Roger Deakins’ crisp cinematography and Carter Burwell’s bombastic score that is very much in on the joke; one that includes the false claim of being a true story, Stormare’s character watching Bruce Campbell on TV in a remote cabin, and conversations entirely comprising the word “yah.” That a work so heavily informed by the region’s Nordic inflection would go on to influence films from bonafide Scandi noir writer Jo Nesbø (Headhunters, Jackpot; both from 2011) lends further authenticity to its offbeat humour.

Hilarious, tense and brimming with character, this remains the Coens’ crowning achievement. 25 years, four spin-off series and countless imitators later, Fargo still feels as pristine as fresh blood on white snow.

A 25th anniversary edition of Fargo is showing in cinemas now, and also on all major VoD platforms:


By Dan Meier - 21-06-2021

Alongside writing reviews for DMovies and The Upcoming, he co-runs the review site Screen Goblin and music blog Jazz Impressions, where you can find him raving about Wes Craven and Wes Montgomery resp...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

Girls Will Be Girls

Shuchi Talati
2024

Victor Fraga - 17-06-2024

Gifted teen decides to explore her sexuality at her own accord, but any missteps could have serious consequences for her and her family's honour - Indian coming-of-age drama is in Competition at Tiff Romania [Read More...]

The Performance

Shira Piven
2024

Victor Fraga - 16-06-2024

Jewish American tap dancer has to stomp his way to the top of the Nazi regime, in what's possibly the worst film adaptation of Arthur Miller ever made - from the 23rd edtion of Tiff Romania [Read More...]

1286

Alisher Utev
2024

Victor Fraga - 16-06-2024

Sombre and elegiac Kazakh drama observes the shocking repercussions of modern-day slavery, and unbridled sadism - from the 23rd edition of Tiff Romania [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *