You’re darn tootin’! – Jerry Lundegard
Joel Coen’s Fargo is about Jerry Lundegard (William Macy) who hires two low profile thugs to kidnap his wife so that he can solve is financial problems by taking the ransom his wealthy father-in-law will pay for his daughter and give 80000 dollars from it to the thugs as their payment. But, the pan goes awry when these two thugs shoot a state trooper and sets police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) on their pursuit.
I tried watching Fargo for the first time a few days ago at night. I fell asleep. I thought it was because of the syrup I had consumed earlier for my cough. Then yesterday, I tried watching Fargo again and that too from the beginning so that I do not miss any details of the case. I fell asleep again and that too at the same scene where I had felt asleep before, when Marge meets Mike. And today, I watched Fargo from that scene onwards, not from the beginning. And today, I didn’t sleep.
It wasn’t because of the cough syrup I fell asleep; it was because of the fact that Fargo has a lousy first half. The narrative is too slow paced for anyone to muster enough concentration. It begins to progress like a soap opera at times. The Coens have behaved as if they had all the time in the world to push forward this crime story. This is the problem that Coppola’s The Godfather faced as well. See, when you are shooting a crime movie or a gangster movie you need twists and turns at small junctures. They are considered irrelevant in these two flicks.
The performances in Fargo are scintillating. Farances McDormand as Marge Gunderson is spontaneous and brilliant. There is a scene in Fargo where Jerry is questioned by Marge the second time after she feels some irregularities in their first interrogation. Jerry loses his cool and shouts at Marge. There is a glare in Marge’s eyes at that moment. She doesn’t utter a word but she stares with a plain face at Jerry, and we can feel the wrath subdued in her. The persona that we had created for Marge as a pregnant, family-loving, simple minded police chief is peeled off in layers. It is the moment that made us realize our banality with regards to the true nature of these characters. We were seeing Jerry as a good guy. We had forgotten that he had hired two thugs to kidnap his own wife so that e can steal the money that his father in law gives as the ransom. That he is the puppeteer of this crime. That he is the villain. I think I loved William Macy’s performance more that Frances McDormand’s. Even though he is the antagonist of the movie, he plays his part with such dignity and grace and his desperation does move us in some parts.
The characters in Fargo are so author backed I would have given my right arm to play Macy’s character in this flick. Now the problem is that the characters are author backed, the script ain’t. I do love the Minnesota nice touch of the movie, but sometimes it just gets too over the top and the script seems downplayed. It lags a lot and the 90 minutes run time feels like I was watching a 3 hour movie. This movie is one of the most overrated movies of all time. I just can’t believe this flick is regarded as the greatest dark comedy of all time. What is so funny about it? Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert said that Fargo was one of the greatest motion pictures of all time, that it was a standing example of why they loved movies and that they could watch it every week. Nothing stands true with regards to Fargo. It is so unfunny. The problem with Fargo is that it could have succeeded as a thriller but the Coens try to make it successful as a comedy as well, which ends up being the mess we know as Fargo.
The movie looks beautiful. Roger Deakins’ camera is spot on. If the characters of Fargo were pieces of chess, then Roger Deakins has made the surroundings as the perfect chess board. It is just an orgasm to the eyes. The score is beautiful and blends perfectly with the story.
Fargo is more about the shallowness of human beings than a crime. That monologue by Marge at the end of Fargo is just nerve wracking and emotional. It shows where the heart of the movie had been – to show how despicable we human beings are fighting and killing each other for a little bit of money. It also conveys how disturbing our nature is to a few individuals who try to comprehend our so called superior thinking within their innocent lives. Well, they just won’t understand it, and I am thankful that they won’t.
But on a whole, I wish that he could have just put on the goddamn tags on his car (Fargo reference). See, this is a script that is in no way suitable for a movie. This would have worked if it had been a 4 episode miniseries on HBO. It would have been perfect and intriguing and would have been apt for this slow sailing ship of a script.
Fargo is a slow paced movie with scintillating performances by its actors but its boring dialogues, slow paced narrative does the movie a lot of harm. It looks visually arresting and the score is beautiful, but I do have to say, the movie’s heart was at the right place.
Rating : 6.1 / 10
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