Credit: FX

Fargo series premiere review: Vintage quirk, modern violence


When the Coen Brothers came out with their quirky 1996 masterpiece Fargo, we didn’t think it could deb built on. The very last thing anyone thought was a good idea would be to make a television series based on the film but that’s exactly what we’ve been given and our prejudice couldn’t have been more wrong.

FX’s Fargo is less about the Coen Brothers film of the same name and more about carving out it’s own quirky place in the lore of the story. Completely unrelated to it’s source material outside of the fact that it’s set in Minnesota and deals with average small town folk, Fargo couldn’t be more different if it had tried.

If you absolutely have to compare this to a Coen Brothers film, it’s closer to No Country For Old Men than it is the original Fargo. The quirk of the series is vintage Coen Brohters but the violence is ultramodern and ever present.

But if there’s one common thread between everything it’s the quirkiness that has made us all fall in love with the work of the Coen Brother and while they’re not directing or writing any of the episodes, you can smell their style all over it.

That’s a testament to both the power and talent of Joel and Ethan Coen but also to Adam Bernstein and Noah Hawley who have taken an already brilliant story and made i into their own brilliant masterpiece. There’s a lot to love about Fargo and it if it doesn’t start with the natural quirkiness it starts with the actors perfectly capturing that mood.

If you absolutely have to compare this to a Coen Brothers film, it’s closer to No Country For Old Men  than it is the original Fargo. The quirk of the series is vintage Coen Brohters but the violence is ultramodern and ever present.

Billy Bob Thornton is at his unhinged best playing a downright bizarre killer, Lorne Malvo, who is shrouded in as much mystery as he is sadistic wisdom. Martin Freeman is flawless as an awkward insurance salesman who is, for the lack of a better term, a complete and utter sissy. There are pushovers and then there’s Freeman playing Lester as he struggles through a miserable life of being picked on, hated by his wife and ignored by the world.

Both of their worlds come colliding together when Lester accidentally breaks his nose while dodging a punch by an adult bully. There he meets Lorne who happily offers to kill the bully if Lester wants. When lester doesn’t say no, Lorne seeks out Sam and calmly kills him at a strip club.

This sets off a police hunt that starts to connect the dots between a dead body found in the woods where we first met Lorne and the murder of the bully. But more importantly it sets off ester and a chain of events that complicate his life more than he could have ever imagined.

Both are two of the most bizarre characters you’ll ever meet and while they seem like they couldn’t be more opposite we later learn that they’re exactly the same after Lester bashes his wife’s head in with a hammer. It’s very clear that these two paths crossing will have long term ripple effects and the bodies that dropped in the premiere episode will hardly be the last.

 

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