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Critics reviews


Joel Coen, Ethan Coen United States, 1996
The duality between darkness and light informs all of the Coen Brothers' work: even their most disturbing film, No Country for Old Men (2007), has its share of humourous moments; and their zanier, more comedic works – from Raising Arizona (1987) to The Big Lebowski (1998) and Burn After Reading (2008) – are haunted by nightmares, kidnappings, and even murder. Of all their films, though, Fargo strikes the most perfect blend of these two competing, or rather complementary, impulses.
Rodney F. Hill
March 17, 2017
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The mixture of offbeat humor (those Minnesota accents!) and sweeping filmmaking makes this one of the directors' most ambitious works. It's a relentlessly funny movie, but also a deeply moving one. And it richly imagines a whole universe of character and consequence.
Bilge Ebiri
February 5, 2016
Among post-Scorsese American filmmakers, the Coen Brothers are unrivalled in terms of quality and originality. Fargo deservedly remains their signature movie, its cultural reverberations extended and deepened by the eponymous anthology television program, which has emerged as one of the most sly and inventive ever.
Jonathan Stevenson
January 20, 2016
What holds Fargo back from greatness is the attempt to juxtapose broad comedy... with unflinching ugliness, like the lonely, ignored corpse of the innocent person who gets unceremoniously killed as a result of all the idiocy. There are two absolutely outstanding movies in Fargo, but they don't belong next to each other.
Mike D'Angelo
March 24, 2014
Besides being a bloody thriller and hilarious and often perverse comedy, "Fargo" is a rare film that shows a mature and hugely pregnant mother-to-be going on about her business without much fuss, untangling a bizarre kidnapping case and pausing to answer the call of nature.
Matt Zoller Seitz
May 6, 2011
Having spent my entire life so far in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, I am admittedly biased when I say that Fargo is Joel and Ethan Coen's best film to date... it's a movie made by two people who were clearly at one time insiders, but who have now taken the opportunity to see the Midwestern template from the outside. Consequently, every interaction in the movie registers as a direct reflection of incongruous elements and repressed tensions.
Eric Henderson
May 21, 2009
Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo is a refreshingly original and complexly taut film that operates on a multifaceted level that is, all at once: compelling, macabre, funny, tragic, and even romantic. From the opening sequence of a car navigating agilely through an endless snow covered road with a car in tow, the Coen brothers deftly craft a highly engaging and comically sinister contemporary masterpiece.
January 1, 1999
Performed to perfection by an imaginatively assembled cast, it displays the customary Coen virtues, at the same time providing a robust emotional core unaffected by the taint of mere technical virtuosity... Suspense, satire, mystery, horror, comedy and keen (if faintly surreal) social observation combine to prove yet again that (bar very few) the Coens remain effortlessly ahead of the American field.
Geoff Andrew
May 1, 1996
I don't think anyone in the general audience who sees Fargo – and that includes me — cares in the slightest whether any of the events actually occurred, regardless of how one feels about the movie. The opening and closing titles are strictly pro forma, and the same could be said for the movie's characters — though this is the Coen brothers in a hyperrealist mode, meaning that the characters are at least superficially more realistic than those in any previous Coen brothers feature.
Jonathan Rosenbaum
March 29, 1996
The Christian Science Monitor
Some viewers may not draw the connection between these moments, and even if they do, they may feel its message is too slim to justify the dubious slapstick involved. It's encouraging to see that the Coens are willing to put a little thought into such matters, though, lending some depth to a picture that might otherwise seem no deeper than the ankle-deep snow that blankets much of the movie's scenery.
David Sterritt
March 18, 1996
The New York Daily News
Everyone comes off badly here, from the kidnap victim to Jose Feliciano, who makes a campy guest appearance as himself. From the camera angles to the set design, everything is calculated to make the viewer feel superior to the cloddish, geeky characters on display. Alas, this is something the Coens do with consummate skill. Every element is perfect, and perfectly devastating so much so that the film starts to feel like shooting not particularly deserving fish in an unfairly tight barrel.
Dave Kehr
March 8, 1996