Cold Blood

The Coen brothers' Fargo fuses farce and thriller

The real -- and wild -- animal in the movie is Grimsrud. At first he seems like nothing more than the garrulous Buscemi's taciturn, possibly retarded sidekick. But when he drills the cop through the forehead (in a scene powerfully reminiscent of The Thin Blue Line), even Showalter is stunned. And when he speeds off in the car to execute a pair of passers-by, there's a gleam of excitement in his eye: He likes killing people, and there's nothing in the film to keep him from doing so.

Except, maybe, the pregnant police chief of Brainerd, a Godforsaken ice burg whose claim to fame is being "the home of Paul Bunyan"? It sounds like a bad joke. But the Coen brothers work their magic on the mismatch, fusing farce and thriller into something uniquely transcendent. They call it "a homespun murder story," but that's too modest. It's brilliant.

Fargo opens Fri, March 8, at area theaters.

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