Magazine article Variety

Chipper Serving of 'Fargo'

Magazine article Variety

Chipper Serving of 'Fargo'

Article excerpt

Chipper Serving of 'Fargo'

As bracing as the snowy vistas in the movie on which it is based, FX's "Fargo" quickly establishes itself as its own property, possessing the tone and style of the rightly admired Coen brothers classic, but pursuing a new tawdry true-crime tale, albeit in similar environs. The limited series also goes far out on a limb in proclaiming its veracity, saying its story's being told "exactly as it occurred" - a Fargo claim that invites skeptiLimited series; cjsm (artistic license has a TOpirf* Apnl15' way of encroaching), but Writer: Noah does nothing to cool the Hawley passion the show should Thornton, insPireIs "FarS°" with its Martin Freeman, stellar cast and hypnotic Colin Hanks tone, worth a 10-episode commitment? You betcha.

Translating the Coens' idiosyncratic style to TV looked like a daunting challenge, but the show joins "American Horror Story" in FX's quiver of limited-series concepts that are well suited to the genre. Only unlike that overheated mess, "Fargo" has considerable latitude to reboot with a new cast and new crime, a la HBO's "True Detective," stretching what once would have been relegated to a TV movie into more marketable "event" territory.

What's most interesting in this perNOCOENS-IDENCE mutation, conceived by Noah Hawley, is how the narrative, despite its basis in truth, seems to draw from a variety of Coen brothers movies. The implacable contract killer played by Billy Bob Thornton, for example, feels like a close cousin to Javier Bardem's philosopher-murderer in "No Country for Old Men," right down to his sadistic streak and the tendency to engage his prey in casual (if inordinately uncomfortable) conversation.

Set in Minnesota in 2006, the multifaceted story centers on Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), an unsuccessful insurance salesman trapped in a rotten marriage. A chance encounter with a bully from his high-school days leads to an emergency room visit, during which he chats with Thornton's killer, there because a car accident has complicated his latest assignment. Faster than you can say "Strangers on a Train," Lester's complaints trigger fatal consequences, leading the soft-spoken fellow down a rabbit hole from which there appears to be no happy ending.

Still, that's just the tip of a very twisted iceberg, with Allison Tolman as a local deputy who's a lot smarter than her boss; Colin Hanks as a Duluth cop who stumbles into a situation for which he's ill prepared; Adam Goldberg and Russell Harvard as two more killers brought into the plot; Oliver Platt as a supermarket magnate with blackmail issues; and Kate Walsh as a not-sogrieving widow. …

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