I'm sure I'll earn myself a whole army of enemies by saying this, but Fargo has got to be the single most overrated film I have ever seen.
I approached it with mixed feelings: it was released in 1996, the same year as my favorite movie - The English Patient. Well, I don't know why, but a lot of people don't seem to like the Patient, and I often hear the comment that it shouldn't have won the Oscar for Best Picture, especially as Fargo was also in the running. After I'd heard/read this a sufficient number of times, I decided to finally see Fargo. After all, it does have cult status and is one of those films that I'm embarrassed to admit I've never seen (my top three of those are: 1) Citizen Kane, 2)The Godfather series and 3) Schindler's List).
So, a synopsis would be in order here, methinks. A car salesmen (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so that he would get a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. The kidnapping goes awry and is followed by a series of murders later investigated by police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).
First of all, I have a problem with this plot. It has garnered almost universal praise and I just can't see why. It's one cliche after another, you can always see what's coming next, and what it all boils down to is, essentially, a bunch of very greedy, evil and, above all, amazingly stupid people killing each other. The characters are the most unlikeable bunch I've seen in a long time, and, when I say unlikeable, I mean bland. They're not even people you love to hate, that's the worst part. They are just uniquely uninteresting stock characters, and typecast at that. I really didn't give a damn about what happened to them for one second. I suppose that Marge is the one you should care for, but the awful script and McDormand's over the top acting ruined that for me as well. I suppose it was meant to be ironic and subtly funny, but the vernacular of the protagonists is so ridiculous that it suspends all credibility, and yet it's not funny enough to make you laugh. The only thing that could possibly get a chuckle out of you is the thought that Frances McDormand won an Oscar for this role (does she even have enough screen time to be considered a lead?)! To think that Kristin Scott Thomas' nuanced performance lost out to this ridiculously overdone charade is a joke. It would've been, I think, more subtle and crafty if McDormand had tattooed "I'm a Midwestern simpleton" on her forehead!
One of the greatest problems with today's movies is that they tend to be overlong. Hardly any last less than two hours. However, Fargo is one of those rare examples which lasts just a bit over an hour and a half and still manages to be boring as hell. I literally felt the seconds of my life ticking irrevocably, frittered away on this silly story.
I'm not going so far as to say it's all bad though. Fargo was beautifully shot and the editing was interesting at times. The sound editing was quite impressive as well. And as much as I appreciate good cinematography and some other technical and artistic aspects of a film, if it doesn't have a point AND doesn't entertain either, long shots of snow-swept landscapes,however beautiful, unfortunately, just aren't enough.