“Fargo” toys with your expectations right from the get-go. The film has no qualms about misleading audiences, as seen by its epigraph, which promises a “true story” even though that’s not quite true, and its title, because aside from one scene set in Fargo, most of the movie is actually set in Minnesota.
In the opening scene, viewers can’t help but sympathize with Jerry Lundergard (William H. Macy) because he’s so clearly out of his league. However, Jerry soon reveals his true colors. Jerry arranges the kidnapping of his wife, manipulates his father-in-law to pay the ransom, and only remembers his poor son as an afterthought. Before long, audiences are no longer rooting for him. Luckily, directors Ethan and Joel Coen give us somebody else to root for.
Half an hour into the film, we are introduced to pregnant cop Marge (Francis McDormand). Fans may be initially confused when the film takes detours to show Marge doing things that have nothing to do with the case, like reuniting with an old friend or ordering food from Arby’s. However, these seemingly insignificant moments are very important. Marge’s life may not be glamorous, but — unlike Jerry or anybody else in the movie — she’s content with it. That’s why the film lingers so long on those mundane moments from Marge’s life, and why she is the hero of the story. The Oscars seemed to agree, because they nominated Macy for Best Supporting Actor and awarded McDormand the prize for Best Actress.