In life you can make a few sweeping statements, bears shit in woods, the Pope wears a funny hat and the Coen brothers don’t make bad movies. As Billy Bob Thornton states on the commentary for The Man Who Wasn’t There, they simply don’t suck. The Coen brothers have been making the best mainstream/art-house cross over films for nearly two decades now and they show no signs of stopping.
For many, Fargo is the Coen’s best movie you can watch right now, mixing the style that they are renowned for with a whole lot of heart. A pitch perfect black comedy that doesn’t fail to recognize the weight that a bit of warmth can bring to the proceedings, despite the frosty background of the Minnesotan Winter. The story concerns a pathetic character called Jerry Lundergard, played superbly by William H. Macy, and his plans to free himself of his money problems. He hits on the idea of having his wife kidnapped and then bagging the ransom money but, what seems to be a simple plan goes horribly awry and the dead bodies start stacking up. It is at this point that the heavily pregnant Marge Gundersson comes on to the scene, played by Frances McDormand in the role that won her an Oscar, and she is the emotional heart that the full movie requires.
Fargo is really rich with a number of joys, not only are the characters brilliantly written and performed but they are all wholly believable and real. The style of the piece is tremendously accomplished and the film is rich with metaphors, both visual and textual. It is endlessly watchable and enjoyable, the characters may do ugly things but there is always a perverse joy to be derived from the way the deeds get done. In my opinion, this isn’t the best Coen brothers film out there, I would be hard pushed to choose a favorite, but this is still filmmaking from the very top drawer and an essential watch for the uninitiated.
The dialogue is well presented and natural and the excellent music, by regular Coen collaborator, Carter Burwell, is brilliantly reproduced. This is a very pleasant presentation of the soundtrack and one that should please the ear, rather than excite it.
The best feature is the free documentary Minnesota Nice that holds a good collection of retrospective interviews and online commentary. There is also a good trivia track, something of an MGM speciality, and a good interview with the Coens and McDormand taken from the Charlie Rose show. There is also a fairly diverting, if a little dry, comments from the brilliant director of photography Roger Deakins. All the package is really missing is a Coen’s opinions, but it is missing it sorely and, as a result, this DVD just misses out on being great.
Fargo is great film and it was released online in its greatest presentation yet, if you haven’t seen this you owe it too yourself to watch it now.