Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Frances McDormand as MARGE GUNDERSON
    William H. Macy as JERRY LUNDEGAARD
    Steve Buscemi as CARL SHOWALTER
    Harve Presnell as WADE GUSTAFSON
    Peter Stormare as GAEAR GRIMSRUD
    Kristin Rudrud as JEAN LUNDEGAARD

    Rated R
    Studio: MGM

    Directed by: The Coen Brothers

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Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a manager at a car dealership in Minneapolis who is in a spot of trouble. He needs money, and a lot of it, fast. So, he hires two thugs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife, planning to pocket the majority of the ransom money from her father. However, when the thugs get in a scrape with the cops, leaving three people dead in the side of the road, a small-town police chief (Frances McDormand) starts digging into the case, putting Jerry’s plan – and his wife – in jeopardy.

Quite simply, “Fargo” is the best movie the Coen Brothers have ever made. And that’s saying a lot. Like Pixar, the Coen Brothers always do quality work, and their self-generated projects only exist in a continuum of perfection. “Fargo” is at the top of the heap, though, being one of the most realistic yet hyper-real movies ever made. The closest the famous brothers have gotten to reaching this perfection was their recent Oscar winner “No Country for Old Men,” but there will always be a special place in my heart that keeps “Fargo” on top.

“Fargo” is a film that defies categorization. It’s a mystery, but not in the traditional Agatha Christie sense. It’s also a comedy – or more accurately, it’s a very funny film – but it’s hardly something the first film that comes to mind in that category. And finally, it’s a quirky drama with tons of personality and bizarre characters.

The planets aligned for this film, making the careers of people like William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi. Macy in particular shines in the film, coming across as a wretched person but still embodying a charming and warm personality. Frances McDormand, who also got a huge career boost from this movie, gives us one of the most memorable characters in movie history.

The special ingredient in “Fargo” is the quirky side of the characters. It’s not just the accent (which I am assured by a Fargo-based radio colleague is pretty darn realistic for the region). It’s not just the characters. It’s the situations, from the most attractive prostitutes in Fargo to the creepy manic-depressive from Chief Marge’s past. There’s something utterly fantastic about the characters and situations, yet completely believable and almost inviting about the whole shmear.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing is unlikable in this film. It’s the best the Coen Brothers have done, hands down.

As shy as the Coens are of the press and too much exposure, it shows in this release. Fortunately, though, director of photography Roger Deakins provides a commentary track, which makes sense considering what a challenge it is to shoot a movie against a white backdrop. That’s right, Scandinavians against snow... how do you get that to pop?

There’s a “nice” featurette called “Minnesota Nice” in which the Coens et al talk about the culture of the American north and why everyone just seems so darn friendly. Also included on the disc is a still photo gallery and a digital reprint of the American Cinematographer article about “Fargo.”

A pop-up trivia track option is available, which gives some cool insight into the film. However, it’s distracting if you are trying to watch the movie. Might be better to watch with the commentary track on after seeing the film again.

Coen Brother nuts.

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