18 March 2010
What a pleasure. It'd been probably five years since I sat and watched this, though there was a time where I'd watched Fargo and Hudsucker Proxy too many times for my own good. Now that I'm familiar with more than just two Coen films, this is such a natural companion piece to No Country For Old Men, I'm shocked I never saw the connection before.
Three protagonists: one a cop, one a crook, and one ambiguously a crook. A suitcase of money. A deal gone wrong. A chase, madness, chaos, many deaths, and not a very happy ending for anybody. Both films even end with the cop not so much winning as playing clean-up to the trail of bodies, and lamenting the state of things. Tommy Lee Jones has a couple of wonderful monologues in No Country, including the opening ("[The boy] said he knew he was going to hell. Be there in about fifteen minutes.I don't know what to make of that. I surely don't."), and Marge Gunderson here in Fargo says to Gaear Grimsrud, "There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don't you know that? And here you are. And it's a beautiful day. Well... I just don't understand it."
The Coens' worlds are always based in a strong sense of place. No Country has Texas, and Fargo has of course Minnesota/North Dakota. But the real contrast between the two is that all three protags in No Country are hardened pros and all three protags in Fargo are rank amateurs. Although No Country has its famous third-act "missing reel" (we never see Llewelyn's fate), Fargo has several plays on that, including first the fate of the parking lot attendant and then the fates of Lundegaard's wife and Carl Showalter (in all three cases, we see the build-up and then the aftermath, but not the act itself).
I'm telling you, these movies are twins. Definitely an excellent double feature, two works that really speak to each other and about each other. I love you guys, you crazy Coens. Never stop.