A few months back I was asked to participate in the Top Comedy Films of All Time polling at the world’s premier independently run film blog, Wonders in the Dark. While Fargo placed far higher on my own list, it finished 51st in the official polling. I then had the pleasure of being asked to provide an essay extolling the many virtues of Fargo, which apart from being such an ingenious dark comedy, is one of my personal favorite films – a state of mind I find myself returning to at least once a year. Apparently I’ll never get enough of those accents.
Here’s an excerpt from my essay –
But it’s those small moments that make it undeniably funny – Marge’s interview of the goofy gum-smacking truck-stop hookers, the idiotic zombified niceness of the cashier at the diner where Jerry convinces his father-in-law to pay a ransom on a kidnapping Jerry arranged, and the complete disinterest of the call girl Carl tries to impress by taking her to the Carlton Celebrity Room to see Jose Feliciano.
The Coens also displayed a hilarious knack for sucking the seriousness out of dire situations, like when Jerry tries to comfort his son Scotty after Scotty’s mother is kidnapped and on the back of the kid’s bedroom door is a poster for “The Accordion King” – a fat smiling idiot in the Alps looking down on this hot mess in the Twin Cities.
Click here to read the full essay at Wonders in the Dark and to join the debate about whether Fargo is a comedy at all.
Totally agree with what you said in your essay. And, it’s always the small moments that convey the most meaning. The Coen brothers have shown us through their films that comedies can be deep and insightful, Fargo is a great example… and, as you mentioned in the Wonders site, so is A Serious Man. My favorite scene in Fargo is towards the end when Marge and Norm are in bed evaluating their own situation, in light of the whole kidnapping fiasco. As you also noted, Marge’s “Heck, Norm, we’re doing pretty good” just about sums it all up. Of course, she’s not talking in financial terms, but with all things in life, it’s the quality of living and relationships that count.
Arti – absolutely – you hit the nail on the head. Every time I watch the film, my appreciation for it deepens – and the Gundersons are the salt of the earth. Good, honest people doing good, honest things. And winning on their own terms.