Blu-ray Review: FARGO

Release Date: May 12th, 2009
MSRP: $29.99

Director: Joel Coen (Really both Joel and Ethan)
Stars: Frances McDormand, William H Macy, Larry Brandenburg, Steve Buscemi
Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers in am enviable place: They are darings of the independent film scene, but also have been embraced by mainstream audiences. They have shown time and time again that you do not have to water down your creative visions to have commercial success.

For me, the Coen Brothers are like the late, great Robert Altman: Even the weaker material is still more interesting than most hollywood fare.

And I am happy to say that Fargo is not even close to being weak. The film won two Oscars (Best Actress for Frances McDormand, Best Original screenplay for the brother Coen) as well as being nominated for five more. In addition, it picked up award at the Cannes, a BAFTA and over four dozen more shiny trophies from various festivals and organizations.

Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) is a car salesman for his father-in-law. Frustrated by his lot in life, Jerry devises a plan to have his wife kidnapped. After his father-in-law pays the ransom, Jerry and the kidnappers will split the money. Jerry, a lying baffoon, hired a pair of unstable whack-jobs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) that develop plans of their own and leave a trail of bodies in their wake.

Frances McDormand plays Police Chief Marge Gunderson. Marge is on the case, despite being very pregnant, and is determined to get to the bottom of it all. The bulk of the characters are written as stereotypical northern Minnesotan folks of Scandinavian decent. Yah, you betcha and for sure litter the screenplay.

This kind of stereotypes used to drive me nuts until I went to northern Minnesota/North Dakota and found out that FOLKS REALLY DO TALK LIKE THAT! While the Coens are clearly having fun with these stereotypes, the character of Marge is truly a gem. She also is painted with the stereotypes, but it also presented as a very smart woman that is good at her job and loves her life, town and neighbors.

Fargo is dark, funny, smart and gripping. Joel and Ethan have mastered the art of crossing genres without making a mess of things. Fargo is a prime example of that, with bleak humor mixed with drama and the occasional burst of violence. Anyone that has not seen it should snatch this up.

The picture is presented in 1080p with a ratio of 1.85:1. There is a grainy quality to the film that I think is simply part of the original presentation. The overall quality is good and the snowy background is quite striking

The audio is presented in DTS 5.1 in English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Italian, as well as a few other non-DTS tracks.
Subtitles : English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Czech, Turkish, Dutch, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Hebrew, Thai, Korean and Polish.

As I said, Joel and Ethan Coen have mastered the art of crossing genres and this is a prime example of that. I know more than a few folks that can’t stand the oddness of it, but I find Fargo to be an exceptional film that I revisit time and time again to revel in the wonderfully odd world of the Brothers Coen.

Order FARGO on Blu-ray.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.