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Phantom Movie Reviews: Fargo

Posted by Wash Oil Rig Clothing in Fargo North Dakota,

Most reviews I write are under the assumption that the reader has not seen the movie. I thus try to divulge as much as I can about the movie without divulging too much what the movie is about. However, I have had so many people nationwide ask me about the movie "Fargo" that I will break from my usual form and give my impression of the movie, as a resident of eastern North Dakota for the last nearly 40 years.

The movie "Fargo" actually has little or nothing to do with the -er- city of Fargo. The scene supposedly shot in Fargo wasn't, but rather further north in the Red River Value in Grand Forks. But the movie premiered at the historic Fargo theatre, one of my favorite haunts. It was packed with people wearing tuxedos, and according to the local press, were literally rolling in the aisles. Knowing by this time the story line, I couldn't see how that could engender much laughter(I was not in attendance). But I had forgotten this was a Coen brothers movie, and they can put a strange spin on anything.
Not long after, I saw the movie at a multiplex matinee, in a small theater at that. And I and my accomplice(yes, I mean that) roared with laughter all the way through.
Now it has been said many times that we Americans are good at laughing at ourselves, and in my experience, nobody is better at this than Norwegian-Americans. The movie is roughly about a botched crime by William H. Macy, who needs cash bad, and so has Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare kidnap his wife so his rich Father in Law(Harvey Presnell) can pay a fat ransom, most of which will go to Macey. Pretty pedestrian and unoriginal plot in my view, but not the point of the movie.
Early in the movie enters Frances McDermand, a female Minnesota small town police chief, and the fun begins. She's investigating an automobile accident that takes place on one of the countless lonely Northern Minnesota Country highways. Two points of interest here: her Norwegian Brogue is exagerated but not that much: it depends on where you are. The depiction of a West Central Minnesota winter's day: squarely right on. So much of the movie centers around the way the characters talk. I know of many locals that are offended by this, and many that think it hilarious. Many say "We don't sound like that!" Well, Ya, we do. One thing I didn't notice at the first viewing is that all meals are at a traditional Norwegian Smorgasbord. One conversation at one such began "Well, how's the fricasse den?" I know of one local that objected to this line, wondering what it meant. Well, I happen to be familiar with the little town he's from, and reminded him "that's what passes for conversation out there."
Actually, the "den" in the above quote is interesting. Pure Norwegians can't pronounce the "th" sound and many people with a "th" in their name(e.g. Mathsen) pronounce the "th" like a "t". Younger folk usually pronounce the full "th".
The above may be too specific: the movie depicts, in perhaps an exagerated way, the slow paced, neighborly life in West Central Minnesota. Another piece of the "plot"(I'd seen the movie three times before someone asked me about the plot, to which I replied "plot, what plot?) involves the kidnappers trip to Minneapolis. It is possible to travel to Minneapolis via Brainerd, but not many would do it, unless, as is the case here, they knew some prostitutes there. I have, incidentally, traveled to Fargo from Minneapolis via Brainerd to go around a storm.
Well, one might wonder can even the Coen Brothers make a movie out making fun out of the way people talk, their cullture, etc. I was wondering this about three fourth's of the way through the movie, when I realized that they weren't making fun of the West Central Minnesotan's at all: it was the twin cities(Minneapolis and St. Paul) view
of our area they were poking fun at. I.m relatively sure there are other things of note that I missed. I still wonder if Lundegaard(Macey's character) is a legitimate name: it’s my understanding that Lund means approximately the same thing in Swedish that Gaard does in Norwegian. I'll let you see the movie again and see if you agree with me.
The movie is well filmed, well acted with a bevy of fine actors. I think the plot a bit weak, but unless you're one of the hard-line Norwegian immigrants that don't like other people poking fun at him, it should be amusing.

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Steve Carell, star of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, was a former “reporter” for what television show?


Fargo Forum Alternative said...

The best review of this movie I ever read! and Funny