Release Date: March 8, 1996
Director: Joel Coen
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment | Working Title Films
The movie is called Fargo although it largely takes place in Minnesota, and the one scene set in the South Dakota city wasn’t even filmed on location in Fargo. The introduction of the movie claims it based on true story but this is a bold-faced lie. The layers of deception are already piling on before we see car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy, whose real life friendly exterior hides some sliminess) begin to carry out a plot to have his wife (Kristin Rudrüd) kidnapped in order to extort money from his father-in-law and boss Wade (Harve Presnell).
Things go horribly wrong, of course, as hired hoods Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) are too incompetent to take basic actions to cover their steps, leading to multiple murders. 34 minutes into the movie enters our hero, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the police chief of the small-town of Brainerd, Minnesota who is seven months pregnant. She has a natural instinct where she leads her to Minneapolis and Jerry’s auto dealership to begin unraveling the mystery.
As a New Englander my cynical feeling is that Minnesota Nice is as a much of a cover for darker behaviors as Southern Hospitality. But Marge Gunderson, one of the great characters of film, shows that you don’t need to be a tough guy who throws punches and puts the pressure on in interrogation to solve the crime. You just need to be a decent human being.