Filmbusu Treeview is a weekly collaboration between Tembusu Treehouse and Tembusu College’s Filmbusu, where Treehouse writers give their take on Filmbusu’s pick of the week.
Director: Joel Coen
Producer: Ethan Coen
Screenwriter(s): Coen brothers
Cast: Frances McDormand (Marge Gunderson), William H. Macy (Jerry Lundergaard), Steve Buscemi (Carl Showalter), Peter Stormare (Gaear Grimsurd)
Fargo is a 1996 film written, produced and directed by the Coen brothers who went on to direct more critically acclaimed movies such as A Serious Man and No Country for Old Men. The film won two out of nine Academy Award nominations, one for Best Original Screenplay and the other for Best Actress (Frances McDormand).
The credits start rolling with a make-believe claim that the film is based on true events that took place in Minnesota in 1987. The film then cuts to the opening credits picturised over Minneapolis in the winter of 1987. Jeremy Lundergaard (William H. Macy), an executive car salesman, is seen sealing a deal with two small-time crooks Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Peter Stormare (Gaear Grimsurd) to kidnap his wife (Jean Lundergaard) while promising them half of the ransom money (which he plans to extort from his wealthy father-in-law) and handing them a new car from his dealership lot. Things don’t go as smoothly as planned and it’s only a matter of time before blood is shed and Brainerd police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) gets involved. What happens next forms the rest of the plot and leads to a chilling conclusion.
Dark humour, a trademark of the Coen brothers, is present throughout the film. Notable scenes include the unintentionally comical kidnapping of Jean and the meeting between Marge and an eccentric old friend, Mike Yanagita. The film moves at a rather fast pace, with every twist in the story unfolding dramatically. More importantly, the film’s strength lies in its deeply complex characters. Marge Gunderson, for example, is a seven months-pregnant police chief who is roped in to investigate a string of homicides. Frances McDormand carries off this role with ease, barring the supposed ‘Minneapolis’ accent and slang, she shows you why she very well deserved that Oscar. Gaear Grimsurd is a brooding yet interesting character who speaks the least in the film but contributes the most to the plot device.
Cinematography wise, the entire film is painted a white just as clinical as its characters. The haunting background music composed by Cater Burwell works in places to amplify the feelings of fear and eerie.
A pretty good one-time watch that’ll keep you on your edge waiting for the next event to unfold.
Who should watch:
Anyone who has a dark sense of humour who’s in for a twisted thriller.
About the Author
Priya aspired to become a filmmaker and novelist once upon a time but shelved those dreams because of society’s pragmatist ideals. She still pursues her passion occasionally by writing creative pieces and enjoying films but she hopes to see a more liberal society which accepts unconventional career choices.
Rating system design by Goh Yong Wee