Fargo

dir. Joel Coen

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Frances McDormand won the Best Actress Academy Award as a pregnant Minnesota sheriff investigating a tangled kidnapping-and-murder case, in the Coen brothers' snow-capped black comedy.

Desperate for cash, Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hires goons Showalter and Grimsrud (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in order to extract a ransom from his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell). When the scheme goes predictably pear-shaped and things turn bloody, pregnant local police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) gets on the case, methodically and inexorably following the trail all the way back to the increasingly frantic Jerry. Getting great comic mileage out of the down-home peculiarities and distinctive patois of the filmmakers' home state, this snow-capped noir also features one of the Coens' greatest creations in the unforgettable Marge, who — despite her cheerful demeanour, unprepossessing stature, occasional morning sickness and devotion to her husband's aviary artwork — proves to be as indomitable a hero as the legendary Paul Bunyan, whose giant, glowering statue looms over the snowy Minnesotan wastes. The brothers' most acclaimed film to date, taking home Academy Awards for the duo's screenplay and for McDormand as Best Actress, Fargo is "one of the best movies I have ever seen" (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times).