Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo takes a humorous, dark twist on the crime movie. The film is set in Minnesota where Jerry, a car salesman, hires two thugs Carl and Gaear (Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so her wealthy father will pay the ransom that he’ll get a piece of.  The film mostly follows Marge (Frances McDormand) the chief of police in a town where the thugs kill a cop and two teens while escaping with the kidnapped wife.


Viewers are moved between a couple of threads in the story: Jerry bumbling to get the ransom money from his father-in-law, and the two thugs (mainly Carl) as they try to get the ransom as police slowly pick up their trail.  All the while, the calmness and normalcy surrounding the characters striking as is their thick, northern —  nearly Canadian — accents, and we’re gently reminded of Marge’s domestic side through her pregnancy and her supportive, nondescript husband, Norm.

I’ve also seen the Coen brother’s No Country for Old Men, and like that film, Fargo left me feeling uncomfortable the entire movie and leaves me with the same, unsettled feeling.  With that said, I enjoyed the film and found it entertaining.  I really appreciated the camera position in this movie.  During dialogue scenes, the camera is positioned directly between the characters, not the over-the-shoulder shot that’s typical in this genre.  Fargo also features numerous close, single shots of characters as they think, work, or react, forcing intimacy with the characters, even if it’s someone we don’t like (such as Jerry).  Additionally, the cut to black as the axe swings into Carl as he shouted “NO” before being cut off was startling and caused me to jump in my seat.

Fargo is true to its tagline that “A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere” and shows the ripple effect from one planned act of violence on the people involved, but what makes the film so special is the way the story contrasts these dramatic story elements with those of everyday like to show how at the end of the day, the police involved have to go home to the ordinary parts of their lives.

Every Frame A Painting’s Joel & Ethan Coen – Shot | Reverse Shot goes into detail looking at the use of the Coen brother’s distinct way of shooting the classic shot/reverse shot, and is what brought my attention to their style, and caused me to choose Fargo for this assignment.

Matt M


This entry was posted in Movies, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Fargo

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Matt, this sounds like a very intriguing film. Your review is very informative and has definitely made me want to watch this film. I really like the article that you posted, as well. It gives a great description of the various techniques in movies that we have been learning in COM 120.

    -Allie Kleinman

  2. mediaphiles says:

    It was interesting to read your review compared to a previous classmate’s review on Fargo. I am intrigued by the way the director chooses to make use of reaction shots within the film, and how the angle is strategically places. This film sounds pretty intense from the way that you described it, and I can’t wait to recognize the different types of filming techniques the cameraman uses once I watch this film!
    -Courteney Case

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Really great analysis of the movie Fargo, I also reviewed this film and found it equally intense. It is definitely a fresh take on the crime genre and I’ve even heard it called neo-noir. It’s interesting to think that Fargo and Chinatown could fit into the same kind of rethinking of film noir, but I definitely see some parallels.

    -Kayla Pierle

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I think Fargo does a good job of blending really dark plots with wacky Midwestern humor. I have yet to see season 2 but I think that the show has taking up the Cohen Brothers tradition of changing conventions. – REECE GUIDA

  5. I like that you included a more technical look at Fargo, honing in on some of the details that make the film so unique. This is definitely on my watch list, especially since it happens in Minnesota. I love the idea of crazy things happening “in the middle of nowhere” and I’m glad you chose to include the tagline in your review because it is a strong selling point for the film.

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I enjoyed your review. I think it was interesting how you connected it to another film, No Country for Old Men, and described your personal emotional reaction to the movie. You also incorporated the tag line which I found a unique addition. I’ve heard of Fargo and it is on my must-see list, and your review definitely leaves me even more intrigued.

    -Meg Schmit

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I really enjoyed this movie and think the review really supports that claim of it being a great movie. I love the choice of screen capture that you choose I think it really is one of the most iconic images in the movie. -Paul McBride

  8. mediaphiles says:

    I appreciated your insights on how he movie made you feel personally. I thought your use of the word “uncomfortable” was intriguing and made me want to know more. I also liked how you outlined some of the techniques of the actual film making and how it enhanced the movie.
    -Sam Yezerski

  9. marymdalton says:

    Nice conversation!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s