No 198 - Fargo
Directors - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
When a horror film states that the film is nothing more than 'found' footage, you kinda know that it isn't true. Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project are all obviously not real. We know that; but is part of the story telling. It is part of the fun.
However, when a film begins with a disclaimer that it is based on a true story - you kind of expect it to be at least partially based on a true story.
I think it takes a certain ballsiness and a pretty weird sense of humour to put that in - and Fargo begins with a disclaimer stating that only the character's names have been changed. But then, the Coen brothers are ballsy people with a very odd sense of humour which is littered throughout this film, despite the dark subject matter.
I mean in the closing credits, Prince is listed as having a cameo in the film.
Beyond the really odd (and essentially nonsensical) additions before and after the feature, the Coen's humour and distinctive style runs thickly throughout the film; mainly in the naive homeliness of the majority of characters. You have to love a film which relishes the juxtaposition of a series of grisly murders and characters who curse less than Ned Flanders.
Most of the cursing and violence stems from one character - Carl Showalter, played by Steve Buscemi sporting an awesome moustache, which sort of makes him look like a young John Waters (which is at least pointed out constantly, with Carl being frequently described as 'funny looking' - which, indeed, he is). Carl is an angry man and is responsible for almost all of the swearing in the film (if you don't include lines "Well gosh darned heck" as a swear). He is also the 'brains' behind the bungled crime which is at heart of the story. He is brilliant.
You see, I always assumed Fargo was some kind of murder mystery, with Frances McDormand's police officer - Marge Gunderson - discovering the bodies and everything stemming from there. However we don't meet her for over half an hour, and instead the film begins with the bungled kidnapping. So we meet the excellent Carl and the equally brilliant Jerry Lundegaard, played by William H Macey. He is (as is often the way with William H Macey's characters) a hapless and unlucky fool who is also insanely nervous. Macey ticks and twitches his way throughout the film and is the most suspiciously nervous person I've ever seen. No wonder Marge immediately realises he may up to no good.
Marge Gunderson is the real star of the film, and allows Frances McDormand to play that kind of homely and adorable character that she plays so well. It is only strengthened by the fact that she is absolutely at the mercy of her pregnancy; constantly with the munchies and constantly out of breath. Her excellent policing and unfazed strong attitude work as a great juxtaposition with the physically vulnerable situation she is in. The film, mostly, follows her (with the occasional asides to H Macey and Buscemi) and we get to see her lovely homely life that involves (a lot of) eating and chatting to her friends.
Marge is a well respected police officer who is happily married to a loving husband, is pregnant and is just doing her job. It is great to watch a police film in which the hero doesn't have a point to prove or personal flaw. She is just an officer who is good at her job. And has an excellent accent. I ruddy love the accent. To my British ears, it provides a certain level of humour to the proceedings. This scene makes me forget that it is a police interview with two hookers and just makes me smile.
I just really like how they say yeah.
And of course... how can I not love a film which involves a death where someone is fed into a wood chipping machine. Feels apt.