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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover



Starring: William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand, Peter Stormare and Harve Presnell
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £22.99
Certificate: 18
Available 04 May 2009

Jerry Lundegaard is deep in debt, but thinks he has a solution to his worries. His father-in-law is rich, but looks down on him, so Jerry hires a couple of crooks to kidnap his wife, hold her hostage and demand $80,000 as a ransom. He'll then split the money with the kidnappers. However, Jerry's actually going to ask for $1 million and keep the rest for himself. Sadly, for Jerry, he hires two bumbling criminals who mess things up. The duo shoot dead a highway patrolman in the sleepy village of Brainerd. This drags local cop Marge Gunderson, who is heavily pregnant, into the picture. Gunderson is good at her job, and it's not long before she's hot on the trail of the killers... and all roads lead back to poor old Jerry...

Fargo is a 1996 dark comedy written and directed by the Cohen brothers Joel and Ethan. The movie opens with a claim that the events are based on a true story - which they aren't. Sadly, though, you can almost imagine it is true - especially when you hear of some of the oddballs out there. Apparently, after seeing the movie, a Japanese woman who had financial worries flew to the area in a bid to find the money which Carl buries in the snow. She was found dead in woods outside of Dakota not long after.

I haven't seen this movie since I went to the cinema on its original release, and I have to admit that it's as fresh and entertaining a film as it was when it was released back in '96. Almost all the characters are real caricatures, but not in a completely over the top, unbelievable way. The movie's hero, Marge Gunderson is the movie's only truly likable main character. And it's kind of sweet the way she bumbles through the movie like a modern Columbo.

Extras include an audio commentary with director of photography Roger Deakins; Minnesota Nice (27 min, 47 sec retrospective featurette); Trivia Track (textual information that pops up as you watch the screen. This is quite small and is only readable if you have a very large TV); Photo Gallery; Theatrical Trailer; TV Spot; and the text based American Cinematographer Article.

I was surprised to see that the extras on here were identical to the special edition DVD, but with a number of features missing. So, gone now are Interview with the Coen Brothers; an audio commentary with producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner; and the Coen brothers repertory company - interactive guide focusing on regular collaborators Turturro, Goodman, and McDormand.

When you can pick up the special edition DVD for well under £5, why would you want to spend nearly five times that on the Blu-ray edition that actually contains less in the way of extras? The movie is enjoyable, but this Blu-ray release is a total disappointment. I'm not even convinced that the picture quality is any better than the DVD release.

This is a hard release to review. The movie is easily a 9/10, but the poor presentation of the Blu-ray edition means that it's not one I'd recommend buying.


Darren Rea

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