Reviewed by: Douglas A. Sirman
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
murder in the Bible
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
|Featuring||William H. Macy (Jerry Lundegaard), Steve Buscemi (Carl Showalter), Frances McDormand (Marge Gunderson), Peter Stormare (Gaear Grimsrud), Bruce Campbell (Soap Opera Actor), Kristin Rudrüd (Jean Lundegaard), Harve Presnell (Wade Gustafson), See all »|
|Director||Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)|
|Producer||PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films, Gramercy Pictures, Tim Bevan, John Cameron, Ethan Coen, Eric Fellner, Joel Coen|
“A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.”
The film “Fargo”, tells the tale of a car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (played by William H. Macy of “E.R.”), who is married to the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Due to some shady financial dealings on his own part, Mr. Lundegaard conspires with a couple of two-bit hustlers to have his wife kidnapped. His plan is that his father-in-law will pay the ransom, which will then be split between himself and his accomplices. However, things go disasterously wrong, culminating in the deaths of a highway patrolman and two innocent bystanders.
Into this mess waddles Brainerd, Minnesota’s Chief-of-Police, Marge Gunderson, brilliantly played by Frances McDormand. Unflappable, very pregnant, and hysterically pragmatic, she goes about the business of solving this case. Marge, and her husband Norm, provide a stark contrast to the bleak specter of these crimes. They are a very real, warm, human center of basic goodness, staring unflinchingly into the face of cold, mindless, and ultimately stupid evil. But in digging her way into the sordid details of the case, Marge remains untouched. She provides a gentle, if somewhat shocked, moral standard in the midst of amoral chaos.
The film seeks to establish a disquieting correlation between life, humor, and brutality. It does this quite effectively, demonstrating the commonalities between all three. It should also be noted that nowhere in the film is the violence minimized or portrayed as cartoonish. This is as it should be. It is in the trivialization of violence that the viewer becomes desensitized to it.
A human resolution is accomplished in one of the last scenes in which Marge is questioning one of the culprits. Again, we see the contrast between good and evil. The criminal, who had contact with the victims, is all slack-jawed disinterest. Marge, who never knew those murdered, is near tears with pity and disbelief over what has been done to total strangers for “…a bit of money.” The final point of the film is made, however, when we realize that some measure of her pity is for the culprit.
Anyone contemplating the film should keep in mind that it contains numerous scenes of graphic violence and sexuality, and is littered with a multitude of profanities. While some of these scenes are offensive, they are, for the most part, intrinsic to the effectiveness of the story line.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.