It is a bitterly cold winter in Minnesota. Two professional killers are hired by a desperate car salesman to kidnap his own wife. He is aiming to cheat his father-in-law into paying out a million dollar ransom. But when the plan is put into action nothing works as planned. The story is presented with a fateful inexorability flavoured with characters we have not seen the likes of since David Lynch's Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks. The car salesman is a browbeaten man called Erik Lundegard. Peter Stormare plays Geir Grimsrud, of Norwegian ancestry: a quiet, violent man with a liking for pancakes. His partner and opposite is a nervous, babbling Steve Buscemi, as impressive as usual in a role he seems to subscribe to. The very-pregnant and very friendly police woman leading the investigation is superbly portrayed by Frances McDormand. Her husband, a postage stamp engraver on the up and up, matches her perfectly. There are a couple of wonderful bedroom scenes where the couple are lying next to each other and talking about their working day before they fall asleep in front of the TV. The policewoman is also wooed by a pathological, lovesick Korean. There are a number of other frightfully ordinary and consistently amiable characters. With regard to image and content, the Coen Brothers return to their debut film Blood Simple though this film also has a good deal of humour. Fargo is full of descendants from Scandinavia and is set in old Swedish districts. Every other line begins with a ''Jaa ... '' with a Scandinavian-American accent. It would be unfair on the film to only describe it as an amusement with a Scandinavian connection. It is also a fateful tragedy in the form of a thriller. Fargo is narrated almost minimalistically, though each sub-plot and character is given time and space to develop. The script has great insight and is masterly realized. Few filmmakers have such total control over the media as the Coen Brothers and the result is one of the best films in recent years. When news came that Peter Stormare was to play the baddy in Jurassic Park 2 (The Lost World), I saw before me a worthy successor to Max von Sydow's bizarre Hollywood career: from Ming in Flash Gordon to Judge Fargo (!) in Judge Dread. In Fargo there is a scene with a wood chipper which may catapult Stormare up amongst actors like Rutgel' Hauer and his equals. TO B

Joel Coen
98 min
American Independents
Svensk premiär
Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
Ethan Coen
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Carter Burwell
Se alla filmer 1996 års program