Monday, 16 November 2015

Fargo (A Parable)


Not the city, nor the TV series.

The Coen brothers' movie.

I like that movie, almost as much as "The Big Lebowsky".

For those whom did not see it, "Fargo" is a small parable over the sins of stupid greed, or of the American mania of measuring one's life on how much he earns, and the virtues of just going on with your life, do the work that makes you happy - do it well - and go home to your loved one at the end of the day.

- If you did not see it, you should stop reading now (plenty of spoilers, ahead), and go watch the movie. For once, even by renting it... unlike Uwe Boll and his BloodRayne (I felt so ashamed in renting that crap, I stopped going into video rentals altogether), the Coen merit to earn something, for their work in this film.

The parable is wrapped in a crime story, that of a kidnapping that derails and ends with the death of the kidnapped, her father, one of the criminals, the loss of the ransom and the imprisonment of the whole mess' organizer. In three words, an ugly mess.

I remember having watched it in a cinema, when it came out, some 19 years ago.

Its nature as a parable was evident to me, the characters may be seen as divided in two fields, the money-driven (William H. Macy's incompetent car salesman, Steve Buscemi's inept, logorroic - and chronic backstabber - criminal and his insane accomplice Peter Stormare, the hard-assed father in law played by Harve Presnell) and the happiness-driven side (essentially, Frances McDormand's pregnant chief police, his husband, her colleagues).

Peter Stormare's character is a case apart, because he is part of the money driven plot but all he really wants is just to kill everybody that happens to annoy him, which he very gruesomely does - as soon as he feels the urge. 

This makes him somewhat likeable, to me. After all, he just likes his job (it just happens to be killing people),  and I can relate to that.

The chief police, donning a slightly mystified air all the time (McDormand is marvellous, in this) , unravel the whole plot - not before a chain of stupid decisions and attempted back-stabbings results in three deaths - and arrest Stormare character, right after he finishes feeding Buscemi's to a wood chopper.

She then goes home, to her mallard-painting husband, that has finally won a concourse for the 3 cents postage stamp.

He'd liked more to have his art used in the 29c stamp but, she points out, as soon as postage rates will rise, the 3c is going to see even more usage than the 29 cents.

She's a bit unsatisfied of having missed the organizer of the whole mess, but the husband reassures her - they'll catch him soon. 

And they slept happily ever after... - not really, but soundly, till the day after
Out of the cinema, while going back to my car, I was thinking about it.

It was a beautiful movie, though it convinced me that I will never, ever, ever go to live in Minnesota.

The parable, the moral of the story was a bit 'in the face', but it was right.

Parables are about teaching people something, not showing how smart-ass the author is.

Opening the door of my very clunky clunker, a 1984 Alfa Romeo "Nuova Giulietta" (Type 116 -  I am an hard-core Alfista), I thought that Fargo's message was one that I could like, though a bit self-evident.

As I sometimes do when I am a bit tired, and at 2 o'clock in a wednesday night tired I was (half price feature), I murmured myself "A bit too evident..."
Right behind me, two women were coming out of the same cinema, having seen the same movie - it was the last non-multiplex in town.

The two were dressed in some nice fur, and talking animatedly with each other...

-"What a stoooopid movie! It has no meaning at all!"

-"Yeah, I feel bad, that I followed their suggestions"

-"Ah, but our friends [] will hear from me!"

They climbed into their brand new Range Rover, and drove away, while I watched.

I believe I was left with the same mildly mystified expression McDormand used in the movie, when I finally ended my phrase

"... indeed???"

Now, I could be a smart-ass, and leave you the toil of deriving the moral of this small story, but parables are about telling something to your public, not you showing off.

What I learnt, that night, it is not just that the Coen Bros make movies that I like - I already suspected it.

It proved to me that there is no such thing as a self-evident truth, and that where we stand in life can change our perspective so much that we miss what's obvious for someone else - and viceversa.

For me, almost all the money-driven decisions in the movie are pretty much idiotic. And that drives the overall message forward.

For those ladies... they would have done the same as William Macy? Made the same choices? I do not know.

They couldn't see the idiocy of the "money field" and, for this, the parable was lost on them.

And that, in itself, was another parable.

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