In this 1996 masterpiece, a complex tale of murder and kidnapping in snowy Minnesota, the Coen brothers find themselves in similar terrain to that explored in their debut feature film "Blood Simple". Both films are brilliantly constructed studies of criminal behavior spiraling out of control, but whereas "Blood Simple" stayed true to the rules of film noir, "Fargo" turns the genre on its head, resulting in a truly unique film-going experience.
The most obvious example of Fargo's subversion of the genre to which it loosely belongs must be the use of Minnesota's stark, snow covered landscape in setting the mood of the piece. Some truly stunning cinematography, combined with a haunting score, produce a backdrop to the film which is undeniably bleak, but also oddly beautiful. The Coen brothers populate this landscape with a host of memorable characters, most noticeably Brainerd's heavily pregnant police chief, Marge Gunderson (played to perfection by Francis McDormand). No hard-boiled copper here, the Coens again toy with convention by imbuing the character of Marge with warmth, humanity and optimism. It is she who must untangle the web of deceit created by desperate car salesman Gerry Lundegaard (the excellant William H Macy) and the incompetent hoods he has hired to do his dirty work (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stromare), and ultimately it is Marge who provides the moral counterpoint to the movies amoral plot.
In conclusion, Fargo was one of the greatest American films of the 1990's, well deserving of it's two Oscars and required viewing for anyone who considers themselves to be a true fan of cinema.