Fargo, 1996


{Theatrical Release Poster}

A Minnesota man hires two out-of-towners to fake kidnap his wife in order to get money to pay his debts, but the men he hired do much more than kidnap.

Synopsis: In Fargo, ND  a Minnesotan car salesman Jerry Lundegaard hires two criminals, Carl and Gaear, to kidnap his wife Jean in order to extort a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. The deal is the criminals will get half of the $80k ransom, and a new car from his lot which he delivers to them prior to the kidnapping. The two criminals violently kidnap Jean and take her to a hideout on Moose Lake. The next morning,pregnant Police Chief Marge is investigating the three road-side murders. Her only clue is the car the two men were driving, and its plates. She travels to Minneapolis interviewing prostitutes, Proudfoot a mechanic and former criminal, and eventually Lundegaard about missing cars from his dealership (also Proudfoot’s boss). Carl demands the full $80k from the deal due to the now high profile nature of the case, and Lundegaard tells his father in law that the deal is now $1 million in cash. Following Carl being beaten by Proudfoot, Carl demands the ransom in 30 minutes at a specific location. When Jean’s father shows up instead of Lundegaard, Carl kills him but sustains a face wound. Carl discovers that the suitcase full of money that Jean’s father delivered contains more than $80K and intends to keep it from his partner, burying  $920k in the snow along the road. Lundegaard eventually flees when the pressure becomes too much for him to handle. Carl goes back to Moose Lake to discover that Gaear has killed Jean for shrieking. Carl attempts to leave after splitting the cash, but a dispute arises over splitting the car which leads to Carl’s death. Marge is doing a check of Moose Lake following a tip about a “funny looking guy” when she spots the car  she was looking for in one of the driveways. She has Gaear at gunpoint, and when he attempts to flee shoots him in the leg. She takes him to the station for processing. In North Dakota,  Lundergaard is caught by State Police. Marge and her husband go to bed like any other day.

My thoughts: I enjoyed the dark comedy of this film. The Minnesota people were not portrayed as having a mundane small town life, instead it showed how content and happy they were enjoying what mattered to them. In fact, only the outsiders that were paying through that were the ones that were bringing in the bad and mundaneness.  The gender role reversals were fun to watch. A pregnant police chief is the most grounded person in the film, while the middle-aged men are the most feeble, helpless, and irrational characters. The physical comedy was fun to watch: Gaear not stopping his defacement of Carl’s body because he cannot hear the police chief over the sound of the woodchopper, Chief Marge not being sure what to do (she can’t tap his shoulder!),  and Carl’s realization that he might never be able to find the money in the snow. This movie does have its share of blood, but I would call it tasteful gore. It is only shown when absolutely necessary. I am excited to watch the TV series of the same name that came out in.

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