When the weather outside is frightful, most people enjoy watching a movie set on a tropical island purely as a means of distraction, but I chose to watch Fargo, which simply made me colder. Worth it, though. The Coen Brother’s 1996 film is a favorite for many, and I can understand why. It made me laugh, it made me cringe, and I was finally able to see the wood chipper scene in context, which was oddly satisfying.
Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hires hit-men to kidnap his wife so her father (yes, his father-in-law) will pay a large ransom, but… everything goes wrong. After three murders, unassuming policewoman Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is called in to help. She reminds everyone she’s carrying “a heavy load”– she’s due in two months, and at one point nearly vomits on a crime scene. The juxtaposition of a pregnant officer in a bloody mess is just one way the film lends comedic relief to the otherwise gruesome story, but the humor also comes in the heavy accents (“aygs” were mentioned countless times in one scene because “eggs” sounds funny when yous guys in Minnesota say it), bleak characters, and overall great writing from The Coen Brothers.
The actual filming of Fargo is stunning– shots of every day life area treated with incredible attention to detail, and gorgeous overhead shots show the desolate landscape. At one point, Marge asks, “Where is everybody?” and Officer Lou (Bruce Bohne) responds, “It’s cold, Margie!” It’s the same reason I’m wearing three shirts and sitting on my couch on a Thursday night. The film is heavy in whites and browns, with pops of what I’m deeming citrus– the gold found in the police badges and the trophies displayed in Jerry’s office, the glorious orange turtleneck worn by head hit-man Carl (Steve Buscemi), and the sad yellow hair of nearly-mute hit-man Gaear (Peter Stormare). In moments of violence, sometimes the camera lingers but other times the shot cuts to black. It’s a tactic that, for me, upped the suspense because I was never sure which murders/attacks I’d actually witness.
My favorite part of the film was Carl’s monologue about remaining silent in the car, and my new favorite line to use in real life is “You got Arby’s all over me!,” but perhaps the most exciting portion of the film included minor character, Officer Lou. Officer Lou meets Marge at the murder scene, and we hardly see him afterwards. But! Officer Lou looks freakishly like an older version of another male featured in a movie set in the Midwest– Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennet), yes, from Mean Girls. You click those hyperlinks and tell me I’m wrong. I like to think that, had these movies been made in a different order, Aaron Samuels really could have grown from desirable high school jock to small town cop. It’s “so fetch.”
On a bad day, I love to watch Jaws because it reminds me that things could be worse. I now would recommend that, on a cold day, you watch Fargo, because while it may not take away the chill, it will remind you that yeah, it could be worse. It’s a perfect snow day cure.