Fargo Script Review

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2017


Comments on Fargo script by Coen Brothers


- Structure (does the writer follow a 3-act structure format? What are the major plot points?)

o The structure is confusing. It is hard to pick out the protagonist. In the end it turns out to be Marge, but that isn't clear until way, way into the story. So, I'd say it's hard to call this a standard three act structure. Major plot points:
o discovering this will be a kidnapping and who is to be kidnapped
o discovering how cold-blooded the kidnappers are
o discovering Marge's role and lifestyle
o discovering the country lifestyle of all the characters
o discovering how many scams Jerry is trying to pull off
o discovering how even more bloody the story gets in the final third
o discovering at the end how little effect all this gruesomeness has on the lives of the people living there

- Character (What makes the lead characters interesting and compelling?)

Everyone in this sure feels "country" as versus city in how they talk and think about things.
Jerry is shown trying to scam people numerous times and in numerous ways. It is certainly a habit of his. And he seems to be aspiring to go big time with this habit.
Grimsrud sure comes across as a man of quiet action and few words, and quick to be deadly. But still very country.
Marge is a country girl mixing child bearing and police work. She is also dedicated to her investigating -- down on her knees, pregnant, studying clues. Also mixes home life and police life and is sharp on spotting things.
Jean is sure the feisty wife. Nothing docile about her during the kidnapping or during her captivity afterwards.

- Theme (What are the film's major themes?)

o Showing north central America small town life, how it is different from NYC and LA.
o Showing a capable woman who is not a feminist
o Showing good slapstick characters

- Tone (What is the genre of this script? How can you tell?)

o This definitely has what I call a Mood Start -- the start sets the mood before all the main characters are introduced and the story gets started.
o The dialog is pretty specific about what it wants the characters to sound like.
o The setting is an unusual one, and the script makes that clear.

- Uniqueness/memorable moments (What is the best part of the script, in your opinion? What makes this script different from others in the crime/thriller genre)

o There is lots of description of the action sequences. The cop stopping Carl's car for no plates is a good example.
o This guy assembled a million dollars in cash in 24 hours... Wow! Doesn't sound consistent with real life.
o It is not clear what the Mike and Marge scene in the bar is adding to the story.
o "He's fleeing the interview." -- that's a memorable and fun scene
o Curious, the script doesn't call the wood chipper a wood chipper in the chewing up the bodies final scene... until the very end.
o How little this horrible series of events affects the people living there.


Editorial: I find it curious how much script reviewers I meet locally and in school scriptwriting courses want the formatting of scripts to be just right -- they are very prescriptionist. But when I read for-real scripts that have been produced, like this one, I find they deviate wildly from the prescriptionist format. This script being a fine example. As in...

o No title page
o No page numbers on the script.
o The name of the dialog character keeps changing, example, man->Anderson->Jerry
o Using the "we see..." POV to describe what a scene looks like
o Spelling mistakes



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