Released 1996 (USA)
American & British, in English
Directors - Joel & Ethan Coen
Stars - William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
When hapless car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (Macy) hires thugs Carl & Gaear (Buscemi & Stormare) to kidnap his wife Jean (Kristin Rudrued) in order to swindle money out of his father-in-law Wade (Harve Presnell), he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of violence. McDormand co-stars as county sheriff Marge Gunderson, who gets pulled into the investigation.
Extreme violence; gore; lots of blue language; sexy times; very brief nudity (both male and female butt).
My enjoyment of this film has always been tempered by the sadness I feel for Scotty (Tony Denman), the young teenaged Gunderson boy, who lost his mother, father, and grandfather all in one fell swoop. It’s difficult to find any humor in that.
The whole Mike Yanagita (Steve Park) - Marge Gunderson scene is so weird and felt completely out of place within the context of the rest of the movie.
I saw this twice before, once before I lived in rural Minnesota and once after. I found it much funnier the second time, after discovering that people really are that nice there and some of them really do talk like that. I enjoyed it even more this time around. There’s a lot of subtle humor that I just didn’t get before. For example, the opening scene, with the epic music playing over a guy driving a car down a snowy road, had me in stitches.
Loved the stark cinematography.
There are a lot of good performances in this. I know Macy and McDormand received a lot of kudos at the time this came out, and I don’t disagree with that, but I also really enjoyed Presnell and Stormare, whose understated portrayals leant a lot of low-key humor to the film.
I like that it features a lot of good, old-fashioned police work.
I’m a big fan. I was always on the fence about it before. “It’s funny,” I would say, “but not THAT funny.” I was wrong. It is THAT funny, but not in the laugh-out-loud kind of way. It’s also an interesting exploration of human greed, the crux of which is summed up nicely by Marge’s monologue to Gaear at the end of the film. While it’s a black comedy, I find that those typically have a sense of the morbid at its core, whereas this one is actually sad when you pull back all the layers. It’s definitely not a movie you want to watch if you’re at all bothered by violence, but if you can look beyond that, I think you’ll find something interesting here.
I give it 4.25 stars.