10 August 2010

32. Fargo

opening shots -- a car coming through snow -- that's the movie in a nutshell

opening scene -- lots of exposition in dialogue. dude is in a tight spot, hires two others to kidnap his wife. one is talkative, nervous. the other doesn't talk, is quietly menacing. the main dude is a pushover.

he comes home. the fact that we know about his wife makes the domestic scene that much more surreal, tense. as well as the clearly strained relationship he has with his father in law

his father in law decides to do a deal with him, so he tries to stop the kidnapping. he can't -- they are coming ever closer

min 15 -- we understand a little more what his plight is -- he borrowed $300k against vehicles that dont exist. another example where he's being 2-faced. the tension between his cherry minnesota nice accent and diction and demeanor and what he's gotten himself into is what's compelling

min 18 -- the banality of her everyday suburban life with the kidnapping. ends on a question -- is she dead?

jerry's deal with the parking lot -- the panacea -- is dead for him because he's an idiot. and to make it worse, his hated father in law will cash in on it

comes home to find the remnants of the kidnapping, realizes the gravity of it, rehearses talking to his father in law

meanwhile, the bad guys are pulled over and have to kill a cop, then passersby, so they don't get caught. they are in deep now, point of no return for everyone. it's fully revealed how bad the quiet one is

subplot -- the cop investigating the murder. it's novel because she's a pregnant woman, and she's the opposite of hardboiled even though she's clever and resourceful, also nice - dlr license plate gag
-- her husband is a compelling minor character because he has his own arc with the stamps

terms of the deal - wade will pay, realizes his kid is involved and has to confront his kid and lie

symbolism -- dead tv static symbolises meaninglessness, a wrong turn. cut to marge and her husband watching tv and it's about bugs taking care of their young -- something she and her husband will be doing soon. they are DOING SOMETHING with themselves, not out committing crimes and being a burden to society

midpoint -- they want the entire 80k because they had to kill people. immediately after he gets a call from the gmac guy wanting the money as well -- the noose is tightening.

wade decides he's going to make the drop, not jerry. he bowls jerry over all the time, and this will be the last time

she comes to investigate shep and talks to jerry. he lies.

she meets with her old classmate, and he lies to her a ton. two purposes to this scene: to show the breakdown of social niceties in this area, and to have him lie to her and have her realize that people do lie -- that gets her wanting to investigate jerry

end of act 2 -- shep beats up steve b., so he decides to end it. wade drops off the money and they shoot each other. steve b. gets away -- he's a murderer now -- he's turned a corner

act 3 -- marge & her people investigate more. bartender tells them about steve b. and his hookers

steve b. buries the money. he's a murderer now and even greedier than before, which is his downfall.

marge discovers yamamoto lied to her. payoff to the confusing setup. it's an epiphany. she goes to visit jerry, who is filling out the form for the cars. she presses on him and he flees.

steve b. returns, splits the money, insists on the car. quiet guy doesn't like that, says they split the car. he kills steve b. he has already killed the wife

marge finds the car. tense scene because we know what quiet guy is capable of, and because we like her. he's feeding steve b. into a wood chipper -- shown only visually. he runs, she shoots him in the leg. important -- she's not a killer like them

she tells the theme after capturing him -- "there's more to life than a little money, you know. don't you know that?"

they catch jerry. he's been reduced to an animal.

epilogue with her and their little life. "we're doing pretty good."

here's what makes this movie good:
* it brings us into a world that's specific and familiar, but also somewhat foreign (the world has its own diction and social mores)
* it's grim and brutal but levened by comedy
* the novelty of cops and robbers in the rural midwest; the novelty of the cop being a pregnant woman who is anything but hardboiled
* it's a thorough and specific examination of a timeless theme: it's about where greed leads -- usually to death.


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