Movie #128 2020: Fargo (1996)

Fargo is one of those movies that people look back on fondly, so is it worth the praise it gets?

Yes and no, I’d say.

At the opening of Fargo, the title card reads ”This is a true story”. Imagine me, then, listening to a movie podcast a full 10 days after watching it to find out that it’s not a true story at all. Of course in 1996 Google wasn’t as readily available through phones etc as it is now. Apparently a lot of people spent years thinking it was a true story, and I bet there are a lot of people today who still believe the lie. What was the Coen Brothers‘ motive for conceiving this lie? No idea. But hell, it was effective.

Thinking this is was true story grabbed my attention immediately; I watched with intent, wondering how these events were going to play out and what evil deeds could possibly have been committed in real world Minnesota. Would I have found it as attention grabbing if I knew it was all a lie? Probably not. So yeah, that is definitely an effective use of… well, lies.

Frances McDormand and Steve Buscemi are two of my favourite living actors, so they get top marks from me. McDormand especially does well at portraying the heavily pregnant police chief with a thick Minneapolis accent, leaving it plain to see exactly how she won that Best Actress Oscar. Even more impressively, she doesn’t even show up until around the 40 minute mark, and still won! I call that ”Anthony Hopkinsing” the shit out of a role.

It’s extremely impressive that Joel Coen plotted this movie as well as he did. It’s a complete thrill ride to see how each of the events in this movie created a chain reaction of even worse events. It’s nuts, and that’s where the brilliance lies. Whilst this is (mostly) not a true story, what does happen never seems unrealistic, and could absolutely happen in real life. It’s fun to see and fun to contemplate.

This is yet another movie that is the exact right length. Even though Fargo has the potential to be an hour and a half longer, the Coens absolutely don’t fuck about, and a good editing system is something that a lot of films are missing. This one gets it right.

Is this the classic that everyone professes it to be? Not for me. But it is still clear to see why it’s on all of those ”1000 movies to see before you die” lists.

Fargo is unfortunately not available anywhere for free after being taken off Netflix. However, you can rent it on Amazon for a measly £2.49.

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