March 12, 1996 [Fargo]

“All for a little bit of money,” the pregnant cop scolds the clumsy, evil little men who run to death and leave double-crosses face-down in the snow, half your face gone, your leg tamped down against the blades to a fine red spray while you wriggle on the motel bed like a rabid monkey as they finally catch up with you, nothing left but a lot of white as far as you can see, as far as you can go.

Frances McDormand’s Marge seems at first another Coen bros. caricature, as real as Nicholas Cage’s imaginary accent in Raising Arizona, her own voice stuffed with big round Upper Midwest “Aw, yahs,” an amusing mannequin for Coen-speak--as pseudo-formal as a Jacobean tragedy, and just about as bloody.  But she knows what matters: the baby inside with a big appetite, the little postage stamps people need when they least expect it, the sympathy for lonely men way out there on a limb--and even some pity for the psychopath in the back of the cruiser, wounded at last so deeply that no unguent will assuage the ragged hole he’s opened in himself, so big he manages to fall right in--but his face is still blank, his lidded eyes looking at the back of her head without even defeat to give them light.  So it’s all up to Marge, her moral compass always pointing True North, as cold as Santa’s outhouse but clean and clear and certain that she will go home and pack it in at a suppertime table nowhere near Fargo.


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