Fargo Movie Plot

Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen with the cast of No Country for Old Men.

The Fargo movie plot is based on the dark comedy genre of writing.

Fargo Authors

The black comedy film, Fargo, was written by brothers Joel and Ethan Cohen. The two also directed and produced the Academy Award winning film. The Cohen brothers, now known for their specific writing style in the film industry, developed their interest in making movies as young boys growing up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

After graduating from high school, Joel went on to study in the film program and New York University, while Ethan decided to study philosophy at Princeton. The brothers continued to make short films throughout their college careers, with their first film titled Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go. Other Cohen brother films include:

  • The Big Liebowski - 1998
  • O Brother Where Art Tho? - 2000
  • Intolerable Cruelty - 2001
  • The Man Who Wasn't There - 2003
  • Ladykillers - 2004
  • No Country for Old Men - 2007
  • Burn After Reading - 2008
  • A Serious Man - 2009

Far before the commercial success of the above films, the Cohens' success began to gain serious ground when they wrote, directed and produced the film Barton Fink in 1991. The film received three Academy Award nominations. Five years later, the they released Fargo.

Fargo Movie Plot Synopsis

The plot to Fargo begins in 1987 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. William H. Macy's lead character Jerry Lundegaard finds himself in a huge financial jam. Lundegaard hatches a plot, along with a few unscrupulous co-workers, Carl and Gaer, to kidnap his wife Jean and demand a large ransom from his wealthy father-in-law, Wade, for her safe return. During this scheming, Lundegaard decides that he is going to demand more ransom, but not tell the others about it so he can keep the money for himself.

Meanwhile, Jerry has been trying to work a real estate deal with his father-in-law Wade, for which Jerry has secured a loan. The loan company is threatening to pull the financing, and Jerry finally gets Wade to agree to invest in the deal. As a result, Jerry tries to call off the kidnapping of his wife, but finds out that Carl and Gaer have already carried out this part of the plan.

The State Trooper

With kidnapping victim Jean Lundegaard in tow, Carl and Gaer are pulled over by a state trooper. They try to bribe the cop, but their attempts fail and Gaer shoots and kills the officer. The hapless criminals get out of the car and try to drag the cop's body away but a couple passing by happens upon them. So, Gaer shoots them too.

The Investigation

Local police chief Marge Gudnerson, played by Frances McDormand, begins investigating the deaths of the couple and the state trooper. During the course of the investigation, Marge follows a few leads, but finds no pertinent information for the case.

Getting the Ransom

Since the kidnapping has already occurred, Jerry decides to follow through with the plot, claiming the kidnappers are demanding one million dollars as opposed to sum agreed upon by Carl, Jerry and Gaer, of $80,000. Jerry's father-in-law Wade agrees to pay the ransom and Carl is sent to pick up the cash. Before the exchange, Wade decides he will not give up the money until he gets his daughter back safely. So, Carl gets angry and shoots and kills Wade.

Avoiding Spoilers

After Carl kills Wade, the follies continue. In order to not give the entire plot away for anyone who has yet to see the film, the ending isn't included in this Fargo movie plot synopsis. If you are a Cohen fan though, Fargo is classic Cohen brothers from beginning to end. Their writing style is genius and the actors chosen to play their roles in Fargo and other Cohen brother films are always on point. Fargo, will always remain one of the favorites among many films done by these talented brothers.

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Fargo Movie Plot