First Time Watch: Fargo
Updated: Jun 25
We've all been in this situation; "Oh my god! You haven't seen (insert film here)? But it's amazing, oh my god!". Yes, even the biggest of film fans have those areas in their film viewing history that are - sometimes ashamedly - missing. Now with the emergence of a lot of free time on my hand, there's no better time to be making a real effort to plow through some of those classics that have escaped me over the years.
Now for the first film, I was somewhat overwhelmed. Where to begin? It's daunting seeing a massive pile in front of you and how do you make that decision? Impossible. So rather sadly, it was down to a series of coin flips - lame I know. So in the end, I finally came to a winner and had my lucky contestant - and a new hobby it seems, try it out it's kinda fun.
Film Synopsis: A married man in debt looks to set up a kidnapping of his wife in order to receive financial aid from his father in law. Things turn south with botched attempts at completing the deal leading the law to be dragged into things inadvertently.
So as you can see by the title and poster above, the eventual winner was the Coen Brothers crime film 'Fargo'. This film has quite the reputation with the Coen Brothers fanbase classing this as one of their finest works as well as critics praising this feature highly. With Oscar fame and being beloved, this film - like every film that'll be featured on this series - had a lot to live up to. Thankfully - and I hope this is the case every time -, the film lived up and excelled way past its reputation, oh yah.
Heading into this film, I only knew a handful of things: it's the Coen Brothers, there's a tv show that I should probably watch as well and Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her performance. The latter was the only real particular element that I was going into with a heightened level of expectation and it came as quite a shock to see the film take its time before introducing her. However, the wait was entirely worth it as McDormand's performance is truly exceptional. As fraud, murder and assault are easily done by the majority of the main characters, McDormand plays wonderful contrast as an exceptional police officer. A cool, calm and charismatic head, McDormand is one of the clearest representations of the good guy in film. In every instance and situation, the character has great poise despite what obstacles she comes across. Whether its dealing with the difficult tasks of her job, rude people and even coming face to face with the monsters shes hunting, there is a real class to this character and is performed brilliantly by McDormand. The final scene with her culprit is truly remarkable, with the character seeming heartbroken and extremely disappointed in the actions, all the whilst remaining polite as can be, despite the monster she is dealing with. Taking down a huge criminal who dwarfs her whilst scolding him as she carries a child, a true badass heroine.
In the aforementioned final scene, a near teary-eyed McDormand is talking about how she can't understand the drive that money has on people and how it causes people to do such dreadful things. In amongst this, the film has major themes of family and the way in how many people have vastly different experiences relating to this. We have straight away in the film a man willing to cause harm to his wife with no regard to her wellbeing to a man who is desperate to have that companionship. The film explores both the desire to experience that kind of love and also how some are so careless with her. Again, McDormand plays great contrast to this, showcasing her loving relationship as well as being appreciative of what she has, exclaiming to her husband "you know we're doing pretty good" as they lovingly snuggle in together. Despite the main atrocities caused within the film, it leaves you with a feeling of hope and a truly sweet ending.
The politics of love would not have been nearly as impactful without the superb writing from the Coens with it never bashing you in the head with its message. The use of a certain character is the only instance where it seems somewhat forced in but it works and plays a vital part within these themes. The most impressive part of the Coens writing has to be the way that every character in the film has some form of personality, leading to the film to have a whole bunch of character within itself. It is a masterclass of dialogue as single scene characters all leave an impact, each carrying charm or quirks that make them memorable. The use of the Minnesota accent and their ticks made this very charming and felt endearing rather than mocking. Being Minnesota natives, the duo clearly reveled in showcasing their home state and their passion and love for the area and its people reflect very clearly in this work.
Alongside the film's great characters is an engaging crime thriller that succeeds excellently despite the audience having most of the answers before the main conflicts actually happen. The writing of the characters sets up who to root for perfectly and keeps you glued in to make sure they get their eventual comeuppance. Alongside this are plenty of shocks, especially on the more gnarly side.
I really lucked out and couldn't have chosen a better film to start this series with. A superbly well-written film backed up with great performances, characters and memorable lines, there's a reason this film is a beloved firm fan favourite. I could easily watch films like this all day and only wish I had seen this sooner. I can't rave about this film any higher, which is why I have to award it, a more than deserving...
I couldn't be more pleased with my first choice for this series as I truly feel like I've found a new favourite! Thank you for taking the time to read my piece and hope you enjoyed it! Keep an eye out for more posts in the future if you liked this one and feel free to follow me on Twitter @AngusMcGregor11. Also, I hope you're staying safe wherever you are in the world right now and under the tough circumstances that this epidemic has caused. Stay safe and I'll see you in the next one!