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Overall Rating
4.12

Awesome56.86%
Worth A Look: 20.92%
Average: 7.84%
Pretty Bad: 5.88%
Total Crap: 8.5%

6 reviews, 117 user ratings


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Fargo
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Deserves all the praise and awards it got."
5 stars

It doesn't take long before you realize that 'Fargo,' the mesmerizing thriller by Joel and Ethan Coen, is about blankness of all kinds -- moral, ethical, emotional. Yet the movie itself is far from blank. In the past, the Coens have been accused of playing art-house film-nerd jokes on the audience. 'Fargo' has its cruel jokes, too, but underneath them is a genuine respect for decency, a sympathy for human frailty.

The blankness begins in the opening shot -- a car slowly appearing in a completely white frame (white sky, snowy ground) as it heads towards us. This vast whiteness, this void, is a canvas that every character gets to paint on, usually in blood. The opening shot is a chilling image of possibility, a blank page whose emerging text can spell redemption or doom.

Fargo has a rather simple plot. A weaselly car salesman named Jerry (William H. Macy) hatches a plan to pry money out of his rich father-in-law: He hires two thugs to kidnap his wife, hoping to pocket half the ransom money he expects her dad to put up. Jerry, unfortunately, is an idiot, and the pair of thugs (hot-headed Steve Buscemi and cold-blooded Peter Stormare) aren't Rhodes scholars either. The thugs, it seems, can't drive three feet without having to resort to violence. Soon, several corpses are left to harden in the snow.

The Coens have visited this territory before, most notably in Blood Simple. What's fresh about Fargo is its heroine, Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who carries a gun, a badge, and a very pregnant belly (she's seven months along) that precedes her on the trail of the killers. McDormand, who has always been a great unsung character actress, has her best role yet as the dedicated Marge. The Coens don't encourage you to laugh at her Minnesota accent ("Yaaah") or the way she waddles around a crime scene (the unborn life inside her contrasts with the stark evidence of murder). The brothers know they've got the best movie heroine in years. Marge is polite, cheerful, whip-smart, and perpetually hungry. She does her part to melt this sharp icicle of a movie.

As usual, the Coens (Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write the scripts) flood the climax with lurid gore and pain. A wood-chipper is put to bad use, and poor Steve Buscemi takes enough abuse for five movies. That this all happens against immaculate wintry backdrops makes the violence more horrific and more tragic. The blood freezes before it hits the ground. Your blood might freeze, too.

Like Hitchcock and David Lynch, the Coens create a surface of bland normality that gradually devolves into horror and perversity, until finally the perversity runs wild. But Fargo, with its easygoing earth-mother heroine, may be the Coens' most accessible film yet, and definitely their richest and most mature.

In other movies, the Coens got off on coolness bordering on coldness. This time, they show us that warmth can endure in a cold world without losing its vitality. Kind-hearted Marge points the way: The boys may chill our bones, but the woman thaws us out.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1416&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/21/07 11:47:47
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User Comments

6/28/14 Chris Just watched it again. Yup, still hate it. This movie deserves none of its hype or awards. 1 stars
10/21/13 Paul Toth Superb movie, great acting and a warm heroine with a razor sharp mind. 5 stars
12/21/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Great movie! 5 stars
6/01/10 User Name The accents make this quirky dark comedy even funnier. 4 stars
4/18/10 PAUL SHORTT ALL ATTITUDE AND LOW APTITUDE 2 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper The Coen brothers are cinema masters. 5 stars
7/23/09 Meatbog Cinematographily Beautiful. And WOODCHIPPERS! 5 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* Its a tad bit slow for the average person but if you can accept the dark humor it rocks. 4 stars
4/17/09 Total Crap Macy and Buschemi are the only things going for this movie. 3 stars
1/12/09 Alan Just watched it for the first time. It's like "No Country For Old Men", only better. 5 stars
1/10/09 Scarlett Excellent! could be watched time and time again! perfect reflection of the Coens talent! 5 stars
1/06/09 FrankNFurter Arguably one of the best American films ever made. A must see! 5 stars
9/17/08 Stu The best film ever (no, really, it is). Everything about it is perfect. 5 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White suspense and drama 4 stars
12/25/07 mb Interesting. 4 stars
12/09/07 Sam Eli just fantastic with great acting and directing 4 stars
11/16/07 kdawg i am tramatized after seeing fargo, the sterotypes were annoying & the violence, disgusting 1 stars
9/21/07 David Cohen Is it an insipid drama or an unfunny comedy? Who cares: it sucks 1 stars
6/13/07 al smith the coens best.buscemi and macy at the top of their game 5 stars
1/15/07 jeannie karlsen one of the best dark comedies ever made! truly genius! 5 stars
12/13/06 Sepi53 good film, but overrated! 4 stars
11/03/06 David Pollastrini we need more wood chippers in movies! 5 stars
10/02/06 Jeremy Davies Boring and overrated. I can't see why this movie was nominated for best picture 2 stars
9/25/06 Lisa Craven Macy at his best, never get tired of watching this classic 5 stars
7/28/06 Josh Racine Every scene in the film is classic. 5 stars
4/14/06 Manana Lekborashvili Bravo Coen Brothers'! 5 stars
3/26/06 Thomas Semesky A good movie with interesting characters and a well written script 4 stars
1/23/06 Max B. Nearly ten years on, and this film remains an unmatched classic. 5 stars
1/19/06 John Dog Coen Brothers' best. 5 stars
12/21/05 JJ Probably the worst movie Ive ever seen, people though it was good because of the accents? 1 stars
7/04/05 blowsky mcgraw, i bet youre a dumbass with A.D.D that onlu likes action, retard 5 stars
5/25/05 Jake Brilliant! 5 stars
3/18/05 indrid cold The most overrated movie in the overrated Coen brother's ouevre. 3 stars
2/05/05 Alice Colwell good movie 5 stars
12/11/04 Ghetto Smurf Fucking amazing. I did not lose interest at all during any scene. 5 stars
10/25/04 Ronald A Weiss finally watch the dvd...sorry I waited so long 5 stars
8/16/04 Peter James A good movie...a shame the Coen brothers lied and said it was based on a true story 4 stars
8/15/04 McGraw DUUULL .I was expecting so much more from the Coens. 2 stars
7/18/04 scrambled brain i've seen fargo 5 or 6 times, and never get bored 5 stars
7/17/04 legend A slow but enjoyable movie. Worth getting on DVD. 5 stars
7/01/04 Mikey Crunt One of the most underrated films of all time. Honestly, some people!!!! 5 stars
6/15/04 T. Maj One of the most overrated films of all time 1 stars
6/13/04 Jack Sommersby Too smug and uneven and (when you get right down to it) stupid. 2 stars
4/27/04 Ryan This film just show that fucked up people aren't just from new york and LA. 5 stars
4/05/04 Miss Julie I couldn't love a movie more than this one. LOVE, do you hear me? LOVE!!!! 5 stars
3/23/04 Lord Haw Haw A cliassic. In the top five best movies of the '90s. 5 stars
3/01/04 Phyllis Joy I don't know why this film got so much attention, and especially praise! I didn't like it. 2 stars
1/13/04 john bale Coen Bros. quirky murder mayhem, funny but noir, again proves to be great cinema. 5 stars
12/08/03 john i found it condescending to its charachters - too in love with its own cleverness 2 stars
8/10/03 I Would OH YAH!!! 5 stars
7/12/03 Indrid Cold Radically overrated. Hate that self-conscious "we're quirky indie directors" thing. 2 stars
6/30/03 joshx42 One of the greatest movies of all time. 5 stars
6/27/03 cochese Grabs your attention and keeps it. great acting. 5 stars
4/21/03 Vince A little too weird, but Buscemi is good. 4 stars
4/13/03 M Megraw I laughed thru the whole movie 5 stars
4/01/03 Rebecca Quite Quotable, Intelligently Written, and Excellent Acting 5 stars
1/14/03 Nancy Niedzielski What the hell was the big deal? 2 stars
1/01/03 Andy Todes "it's my deal, wade!" some of the best dialogue you'll ever hear. 5 stars
11/24/02 Kyle Didn't do much for me. And McDormand's accent got on my nerves. 2 stars
11/23/02 Charles Tatum North Dakota Rules!!! Uff-da!!! 5 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Best Film of 1996.Macy & McDormand are tops! 5 stars
9/08/02 Jim The Coen brothers' best movie. Now, don't you hurt Scotty eh? 5 stars
5/17/02 Priscilla Postlethwaite Greg Muskewitz, Fargo ain't in Minnesota! 3 stars
4/05/02 Edfink Lombardo The Best Film of 1996! Buscemi, Macy, and McDormand are excellent 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver We Minnesotan do kinda talk kinda funny. 5 stars
1/24/02 Elliot for those who just can't let go of Saturday morning cartoons. 1 stars
12/02/01 Carrie Janek I had to watch this for a college cinema class 3 stars
12/01/01 Mark Conway total pish, no character development, just some nuttter who kills ever 1, 1 stars
10/16/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) One of the best of the Coens. 5 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean Margie was as cute as a button in this movie. The Coen bros. knows how to tell a story! 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Surreal Coen brothers experience that tests character and soul. 5 stars
6/24/01 Dean They kill like 10 people, yet the director feels he needs to explain that was bad. PLEASE. 1 stars
6/20/01 Elvisfan One of the only American movies not typically American. That's a good thing.. 5 stars
5/07/01 Mikko Salminen Absolutely the best film ever! 5 stars
4/08/01 Andrew Deikun Incredible movie. Original. Highest recommendation 5 stars
4/01/01 Adam Richards One of my favorites. Jerry Lundegaard is the biggest loser in the history of cinema! 5 stars
3/28/01 saucy terrible!!! terrible!!! terrible!!! 1 stars
3/15/01 Rael A great film, dontchaknow (the Coen Brother's best). 5 stars
3/08/01 Trashstar I found this movie hilarious, very very entertaining. 4 stars
2/13/01 Jake Unlike any film I've seen before. The lesson is that Crime doesn't pay. 5 stars
12/18/00 gariott Frances McDormand and William H Macy are both wonderful, brilliantly acted dark comedy! 5 stars
12/04/00 Cristopher Revilla ok, too much hype but still its worth your fucking money!!!! 5 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin This movie RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
9/04/00 DarcyElaine Great cinematography, and it introduced the world to W.H.Macy. Other than that, not great. 3 stars
8/25/00 Joep excellent cast enhances a well written plot 5 stars
8/18/00 Matthew Bartley Erm...I've re-evaluated it...still over-rated 4 stars
7/28/00 Chris Drake Wickedly amusing yet overrated.Made-for-tv look.Not based on fact 4 stars
5/12/00 LINA CANTIN IT ROCKED... OUTSTANDING CINEMATOGRAPHY...GREAT FILM ... 5 stars
1/13/00 PervertedPixie WAY over-rated, but Buscemi, McDormand and the Coens are cool as always. 4 stars
1/04/00 Nice Guy Eddie not the best from the coens, but worth a trip to the video store. 4 stars
11/20/99 latife arslan white red but black 4 stars
11/09/99 Bozo McDormand great but not Oscar-caliber; Macy was brilliant & so was screenplay 5 stars
10/19/99 Andi steve buscemi's the greatest 5 stars
10/04/99 Frank Fasciano ggg 5 stars
7/28/99 dave the worst movie ever 1 stars
7/24/99 Hagbard Celine One of the best films of the 90s. William Macy is an astoundingly good actor. 5 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg I really don't get what all the fuckin' fuss is about. This shit wasn't that good. 3 stars
6/29/99 Anakin Soilwalker uh..this..movie..is pretty violent....lots of blood..on the snow...pretty interesting.. 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Coen Brother's do it again. Are these guys totally fucking flawless or what? 5 stars
5/04/99 Big Dog William H Macy is really from up North 5 stars
4/21/99 Ah Dooey Still better than Urban Legend, with a few good laughs; in other words: great! 5 stars
3/22/99 A. M. What Hollywood thinks of America. 1 stars
3/17/99 Go Swans Did i like it? Yah 5 stars
2/19/99 Bruce Hedge Right,Ryan A never seen a movie like it! 5 stars
2/18/99 Piz brilliant performances, but why was i cheering for the bad guys?? 4 stars
2/07/99 Vick Di Brecci Very smooth movie. Soundtrack a direct rip of Taxi Driver. Make a note of that 4 stars
1/24/99 Hannah A euphoric movie-going experience. 5 stars
1/12/99 demon_shredder This movie was da bomb 5 stars
1/10/99 Dasha Frances McDormand was fantastic, but overall - overrated crap and big disappointment for me 1 stars
1/03/99 Charles Dubé Another quirky helping of cinematic bliss from the Coen bros.! 5 stars
12/18/98 jenn WOW, this movie sucked 1 stars
12/18/98 Jules A true original. Pretty much perfect. 5 stars
12/09/98 Andrea Great acting, good directing, just worth it for the accents. 5 stars
12/08/98 davebo Great atmosphere, acting, directing, I love it 5 stars
12/08/98 PirateGirl I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more at the accents 5 stars
12/08/98 CaptNish Great flick, but I think it was incredibly overrated. 4 stars
12/08/98 Silent Rob Brilliant Coen-Caper. Stellar performances! A Bona Fide quirk-fest! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Mar-1996 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Jul-1996 (MA)




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