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August 30, 2010

Fargo (1996)
Director: Joel Coen
Actors: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi

fargo03-290x160.jpg (290×160)

Synopsis: A family extortion plot goes horribly wrong, and pregnant copper (Frances McDormand) is left to pick up the pieces….

Review: This is probably the best Coen brothers film I’ve seen to date – perfectly moulding their always great feel for characterisation and dialogue, to an impeccably pitched storyline which flits expertly between passages of whimsy and darkness. The Coens totally nail the film’s sense of place, with the wintry backdrop of Minnesota and North Dakota not only giving a distinctive picturesque quality to the proceedings, but also imprinting the narrative with the feel of an ‘outwards’ place where acts of appalling criminality and violence merge jarringly with the geniality of its community that still consists mainly of ancestors from the region’s original Scandanavian settlers.

Stopping the film short of absolute perfection is that the Coens seem just a little too satisfied with the ironic dichotomy of Frances McDormand’s pregnant and genteel policewoman up against Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi’s crazed kidnappers, and the ending is a little contrived with McDormand very fortunate to chance upon the kidnappers’ hideout in the middle of nowhere. That apart, this is a satisfyingly lean thriller, and it also features one of the most interesting and tonally appropriate music scores of recent times. (October 2009)

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