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'Fargo:' Another Coen brothers gem?


'Yah, sure'

March 7, 1996
Web posted at: 7:35 a.m EST (1235 GMT)

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- From the quick-draw antics of Hi and Ed in "Raising Arizona" to the hypnotic imagery of "Barton Fink," the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, make movies that just aren't like any others. And their latest film "Fargo," opening this weekend in New York and Los Angeles, will not disappoint fans of their offbeat world view.

If you loved her in "Raising Arizona" as Ed's gum-smacking white trash friend who warns her of the dangers of diphtheria, then you're going to really love Francis McDormand as pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson of Fargo, Minnesota.

coen brothers

"Fargo" is based on the true story of a bungled Minnesota kidnapping, but in the Coen brothers' screenplay it also becomes a funny take on upper Midwestern manners.

"There's a sort of politeness and a little bit of a distance or reserve that's characteristic of a lot of people in the area that's oddly punctuated by these horrible, heinous crimes that you hear about more frequently than you think," Ethan Coen says.

Chief Gunderson reflects his observation, calling the crime she's investigating a "malfeasance."

Having grown up on suburban Minneapolis, director Joel Coen is sensitive to the film's portrayal of Minnesotans . "They're sort of ordinary, everyday Joes on the surface, but when you get to sort of look at them more closely, you realize they're much more complex than that," he says.


McDormand, who is married to Joel Coen, is an Illinois native. She says she doesn't detect any condescension in "Fargo."

"It's because I have so much respect and love for Marge that I'd be surprised if people thought I was making fun of her or that Joel and Ethan were," she says.

Steve Buscemi, who has made a career out of playing sinister yet quirky criminals, says the Coens' rendition of Minnesotans isn't condescending, but simply accurate.


If "Fargo" makes fun of anyone, it's the two dim-witted criminals played with a unique and delightful style by Buscemi and Peter Stormare.

Like their debut film, "Blood Simple," "Fargo" has its share of Coen-style guts and gore, courtesy of a wood-chipper.

For the brothers, "Fargo" represents a chance to bounce back after the critical and commercial disappointment of their last film, "The Hudsucker Proxy."

Asked if "Fargo" will put the Coens back on the industry map, McDormand says, "I don't think Joel and Ethan will ever be on the map, because they are unto themselves, something outside of the Hollywood film industry."

As they say in Minnesota, "Yah, sure."


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