June 01, 2007

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


Fargo (1996).

As most of you probably know, the story of a small-time kidnapping concocted by a hopelessly small man that goes bloodily and horrifically wrong. All the Coen Brothers movies I'd seen before this one had been comedies and, despite warnings that some of you lot had given, I went into this film believing that it was one, too (albeit a blacker one). After the initial realization that it was considerably different from, say, Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, I settled down and made myself watch it on its own terms.

And frankly, I'm not quite sure I see what all the fuss is about.

I mean, the characters are all played very well (I gather that the Coens like to give actors their heads to do what they will with the parts), and the story (supposedly true) is fascinating in many of its aspects, but on the whole I found a strange quality of flatness that gradually pervaded things until it took over completely. In particular, the police detectiving bit got to the point where it seemed everybody simply stood about saying, "Aw, Jeez, yah!" to each other. And indeed, I found absolutely nothing climactic about the final confrontation between the villain and Police Woman Marge. He started out as a truly terrifying character, but by the end, despite what he was doing with the wood-chipper, seemed as flat as everything else.

Now perhaps this was deliberate on the part of the Coens, a tribute to the flat, cold reality of Minnesota in the winter. Perhaps their intent was to make an anti-thriller thriller. In which case, I've now marked myself as a philistine boob when it comes to the subtler twists of film art, but there you have it: I was still somewhat unsatisfied.

Robbo's Rating: Call it two and three-quarters Yips! out of five. As I say, I could appreciate the craftsmanship, but I'm not sure I'd cross the street to see this film again.

Posted by Robert at June 1, 2007 10:13 AM | TrackBack

It's not based on a true story, even though one of the opening splash screens said so. The Coens wanted to see if they could get away with the blatent lie, and they did, to the point where people spent time searching the fence lines in the area looking for the "lost" money.

That "yah, yah, shuuur" bit is dead on accurate for the area. I spent years up there in the USAF, and the movie nailed the accents, the attitudes, and especially the behavior patterns.

I agree about the lack of climax, although I never looked at it as a weakness. I'd think that sometimes police work just kinda peters out to the finish. Of course, that makes for boring movies, but it did seem realistic to me.

Posted by: Ted at June 1, 2007 10:34 AM

uh... "blantant". Dang.

Posted by: Ted at June 1, 2007 10:36 AM

I'm going to stop trying now, 'k?

Posted by: Ted at June 1, 2007 10:37 AM

Robbo, overall it didn't do all that much for me either.

The performance of Steve (Mr. Pink) Buscemi, however, got me to sit through the whole thing.

Posted by: Gary at June 1, 2007 01:09 PM

It is intentionslly that way, and as such, I think it is successful. But way overhyped.

Lebowski, on the other hand, is one of my top ten favorites of all times, if only for John Goodman's character.

Over the line!

Posted by: The Colossus at June 1, 2007 08:32 PM