Despite being a fan of the Fargo television show, I had never taken the time to watch the film that inspired it. The Coen brothers and Noah Hawley drew me in quickly with the show, so it only made sense to tackle this movie at some point. Going into this movie, here’s what I knew about it: there would be snow, lots of snow, and surely some people would die.
The cast of Fargo quickly made the movie enjoyable, even if it didn’t move at the fastest pace to start. William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, and Peter Stormare excelled in their various roles. The accents were exactly what I was expecting after watching the show and the addition of Frances McDormand (among other familiar names) didn’t hurt.
Stormare’s role as Gaear was actually fairly terrifying at times. He has a moment where after he shoots a cop, he stares down the couple that drives by and then takes off after them to leave no witnesses. He’s not a huge talker, but his actions speak volumes. His actions alone probably cause the most action that the police in the area have seen in a while.
To rewind a little, Jerry (Macy) is the “mastermind” behind everything. It’s apparent fairly quickly and seems to fall apart even faster. He’s not a seasoned criminal like Gaear or Carl (Buscemi). It makes for an entertaining turn of events as he tries his best to continue lying to keep suspicion off of him. The moment when that all goes out the window (when he flees from the car dealer) is wonderfully executed. Marge’s (McDormand) reaction is priceless and it’s abundantly clear that she’s piecing everything together because of Jerry’s stupidity and inability to lie well.
Fargo is one of those movies that managed to make me laugh and almost constantly worry. Who would die next? I certainly didn’t see it coming when Carl ends up getting shot in the face by Wade (Harve Presnell). Then again, he did take his daughter Jean (Kristin Rudrüd) at the instruction of Jerry. As it turns out, being an “Executive Sales Manager” doesn’t necessarily mean that Jerry has enough smarts to pull off a controlled abduction for ransom. He’s one of those characters who makes you want to scream “WHY?” or “Don’t do that!” at the screen. However, that’s also exactly what made his character work so well.
Marge doesn’t appear until about thirty-three minutes into the film, but the later introduction felt like the right move. Her story doesn’t get dragged out more than necessary that way. She wasn’t present until after the chaos started and was reported to the police. Her husband, Norm (John Carroll Lynch), provides us with some insight into her home life. Their little banter back and forth just about breakfast nicely shows what kind of relationship they have without having it feel forced. It was great to also not have to spend a ton of time with the couple and still get the pertinent information necessary to the story and characters.
Another plus to watching this film was that there were some things that tied into the current show. The parking lots and the stamp that Norm mentions at the tail end of the film shed some light on the importance of those in the show for me. Overall, Fargo was a good time and it made me feel like I should have watched this before I ever watched the show.