Poor Jerry Lundegaard. He's deep in debt. His wealthy father-in-law has no respect for him. He cheats customers at the car dealership where he works. And now he's hired a bumbling duo to kidnap his wife--a plan that goes horribly awry, leading to homicide. Enter Marge Gunderson, one of the most fabulous movie cops in film history. The very-pregnant Marge--played marvelously by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning and career-defining performance--just goes about her everyday business, eating (in nearly every scene), talking to the people in the community, and examining bloody corpses as if no day is different from the next. A multiple murder in the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota--home of Paul Bunyan, as the sign claims--seems to have little effect on her. Yet she has an innate cop sense--she is very, very good at her job and determined to solve the case in her offhanded manner.
FARGO is yet another offbeat, highly entertaining film from the Coen brothers (BARTON FINK, BLOOD SIMPLE). The film is nearly colorless; instead, director of photography Roger Deakins washes the screen in the blinding white of the snow, occasionally breaking for the drab grays and browns of police uniforms and winter jackets. Carter Burwell's score further enhances the slow, steady pace of this oddly funny and compelling film. The Coens have once again populated their film with a slew of bizarre characters, with outstanding performances delivered by all, particularly the edgy William H. Macy, the quietly luminous McDormand, the nearly psychotic Steve Buscemi, and the oh-so-cold Peter Stormare.
Academy Awards Best Actress 1996 Frances McDormand American Actress
Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay 1996 Joel Coen American director/screenwriter/producer
Cannes Best Director 1996 Joel Coen American director/screenwriter/producer
Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay 1996 Ethan Coen American producer/screenwriter/director