This film is yet another black comedy-cum-neo-noir movie written and directed by the Brothers Coen.
In what may be the dumbest blackmail scheme ever concocted, Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (played with relentlessly Midwestern charm by William H. Macy) gets referred by a Native American ex-con who works at the dealership to a couple of knuckleheads who Lundegaarde hires to kidnap his wife. The ransom is to be paid by his father-in-law. In return, the Frick and Frack of Crime are to be paid half the ransom—and get a new 87 Olds Cutlass in the bargain. But Lundeguaard has other plans, i.e., the pair of hoods may get a car, but far less than half the loot.
But things crash in on Lundegaarde as his creditors come calling. So Lundeguaard tries talking his Dad-in-Law into a real estate deal, then tries to cancel his arrangement with the two goons. Unfortunately, he fails to stop the fake kidnapping, which leads to bloodshed when a Brainerd, Minnesota cop who pulls the kidnappers over gets shot by the crazier of the two hoods.
Here’s where Marge Gunderson (played by the amazing Frances McDormand), pregnant cop and overall bad-ass (especially considering the load she’s carrying) becomes involved. It’s her job to investigate the murder.
In the wild and wooly mix-ups that ensue, Gunderson follows the leads to the dealership. And though Lundeguaard might take her for a soft touch, Gunderson rips into him during the most suspenseful and hilarious interrogation scene ever.
The film (which was supposedly based on a true story) seems just crazy enough to have actually happened. Steve Buscemi gets all the laughs as the high-strung one of the criminal duo, and Peter Stormare is stoically and unstoppably nuts as the other.
The movie deftly blends the tension and suspense needed to keep the pace moving nicely. And even though the film is bloody as hell in places, it manages to be funny as all get out.
The climax of the film (without revealing spoilers) is a real cut up! Gunderson’s grit and bravery save the day. But not before one of the criminal duo make a real hash-up with a wood chipper.
This is another Coen Brothers winner that gets a well-deserved two thumbs up!