“This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”
In fact, it isn’t a true story. That’s the charm of Fargo. Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen added the disclaimer in hopes viewers would be more willing to suspend their belief of the events of the story. The film is about a kidnapping gone awry in the cold climes of Minnesota and the police officer, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who breaks the case.
Unassuming but tenacious, Marge, this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday feature, has a way with catching criminals. Unlike other officers of the law, her language contains a generous helping of “there in a jiff”, “time to shove off” and “thanks a bunch.” When watching her work for the first time, one cannot help but notice the simple-minded feel she projects while she investigates a murder scene. Make no mistake; her quirky exterior hides her razor-sharp ability to see through lies and discover the truth.
In the midst of this, her husband provides her support by visiting her at the station. “I brought you some lunch, Margie,” he says. They talk about his painting. Only, she’s the one providing support after he reveals their neighbors may have a better painting for an art exhibition. Marge, the trooper that she is, says, “You’re better than them.” Which he quickly answers, “They’re real good.” She shoots down his insecurities, “They’re good, Norm, but you’re better than them.”
Punctuated by episodes of an ordinary life, Marge handles every clue to the mystery with the same instincts a bloodhound would use to track its prey. Layer upon layer, she puts it all together as if it were a challenging puzzle ready for the final piece.
When she meets with anyone posing as a threat to her investigation, she focuses her aim on pointed questions, never deviating from her prepared script. One of the best lines in the movie is the one she utters after the man she’s investigating uses the word “darn”—as in “I answered the darn…I’m cooperating here.” To which she replies:
“Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me. I’m just doing my job here.”
And when it’s all over and done with. When there’re no more criminals to catch. Marge talks of the futility in chasing after a little bit of money. In terms of her simple life, she can’t understand what compels anyone from destroying other people’s lives in order to attain that “little bit of money.”
Which begs the question: Why can’t we all just get along?
Have you seen Fargo? What did you think of Marge?