Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Fargo (1996) – Classic Review


When reviewing this ‘homespun murder story’, it will be nearly impossible not to mention and compare it to the 2014 television series of the same name and style. “Fargo”, another definitive Coen Brothers picture, is yet again, a tale of frustration and incompetence that fits the perfect Coen-style mould.
Set in the isolated snowy Upper Midwest of the States, the audience are treated to yet another group of dysfunctional characters that are simply marvellous to watch. This film is iconic and arguably cemented the Coen Brothers into directorial stardom, but how does the series hold up against the ‘original’, if you want to call it that.

For the time, “Fargo” received one of cinema’s greatest honours. No, not the OSCARs or awards alike, but recognition from two of the most important people in the industry. Reviewers Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, pioneers in both the written and televised film review format, said that “Fargo” was their favourite film of 1996.
To have two of the most influential critics praising a film unanimously is quite something, especially when Siskel and Ebert are the ones praising it. We had “Jerry Maguire”, “Trainspotting”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Independence Day” and even “101 Dalmatians!” But no, it was “Fargo” that took the crown for the year’s best film.

fargo-francis-mcdormand The black comedy focuses on a murder attempt that involves the hiring of two goons who appear to prove incapable of completely fulfilling their duty, particularly due to the excellent and threatening investigatory skills of a heavily pregnant police officer.
Starring Steve Buscemi, William H. Macey, Peter Stormare and Frances McDormand, “Fargo” is one that should probably be viewed a few times over in order to fully dissect and admire it’s true brilliance.
It’s full of some excellent dialogue and character interaction, and builds up to some heavily suspenseful moments at different stages.

Now, how does it compare to the series? Well, the television series is something truly incredible. There are numerous links between the two “Fargo’s” and it doesn’t seem fair to pin them against each other in all honesty.
The television series is an adaptation of the film, but not entirely; it has features throughout that are taken from the film, but what is so enjoyable about the show is how original and distanced it is at it’s core.

originalThe film is one of the Coen Brothers’ best, and ultimately I think they are both fantastic. The show did not discredit the film which is the most important thing when comparing them, thank goodness for that!

Above all, “Fargo” is elaborate, farfetched, disturbing, entertaining and highly original. It is well renowned and critically acclaimed, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s not my favourite from the Coen Brothers, but it is one that proves definitive of their style, class and intelligence when it comes to crafting excellent motion pictures.
Roger Ebert stated that “Fargo” is “like a film festival in one”, he’s absolutely correct, there aren’t many films like it!



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