22 Feb IS THE FARGO NOIR GENRE BREWING?
Is Fargo Noir becoming its own genre?
Look, Fargo, in my opinion, was a great movie.
It’s a thriller, a melodrama, and while I don’t know if you can call Fargo a straight out horror movie, it has some key horror element; bodies lying around, psychopathic killers, more than enough drama and suspense, not to mention an overall degradation of the general situation – things going from bad to worse to the downright deplorable.
And it struck me recently that there’s something about the Fargo scenario that I believe is beginning to resemble a new genre. Like film noir was to thriller, detective and gangster movies, I see this genre forming around basic Fargo traits and scenarios. It’s interesting to see how well the Fargo TV show is able to build situations, locations and the insular nature of scenarios. As you’re probably aware, the TV series is completely different to the movie story-wise BUT very similar in certain shared key elements with the movie.
I see this as the beginning of a genre which, for lack of a better term right now, I would call Fargo Noir. Typically it would show a scenario somewhere like the Midwest, where because of the claustrophobic, oppressive weather you have scenarios where seemingly normal people get affected by ‘external influences’, and we find out just how these ‘external influences’ affect them!
It’s coming back to what I see in a lot of Film Noir, where the basic message I always get is ‘good and bad people do good and bad things.’
I think the basis of this new Fargo Noir genre is that good, innocent people have the capacity to do really bad, evil things. And maybe sometimes it takes bad people to bring out goodness from the most unlikely sources…!
The claustrophobia of the setting also amplifies the situation. The dysfunction, needing more but not having the resources to fulfill your needs, and the completely oppressive and relentless snow in that particular part of the Midwest! There are also constant references to people being observed from the outside-in; it’s really interesting to watch. I don’t know if we’ll ever see it blow up into a full-on genre, like sci-fi thriller or horror-comedy. But I think these are a pretty interesting set of ingredients to work with more often, and we have clear proof that the results can be tasty – the Fargo TV series is as compelling as it is successful. I don’t think this concept necessarily has to be locked into the geography of Fargo, it could easily happen in, say, the Scottish Highlands.
You could argue that David Lynch had a similar vision with the concept of totally run-of-the-mill average people in everyday situations, and exposing them for their bizarre traits. And Lynch has excelled at this with the whole Twin Peaks thing, as have the Cohen brothers with Fargo, The Big Lebowski, all sorts of great movies – Barton Fink’s another. Thinking about it, Barton Fink could easily pass for something that could’ve been done by David Lynch!
Maybe it’s their ’thing’ to expose and make transparent the fact this shit happens, that it happens everywhere including small towns, that it happens even if you’re ‘good looking attractive people with money’, that it happens to regular everyday people who are struggling. Which takes me to the reality of it all. Both Lynch and the Cohen brothers inject a degree of realism into their work because they work with ordinary people and ordinary scenarios that we all think we see day in day out, nothing particularly outrageous on the face of it, but the truest horror is found in the strangest places. And some of the strangest stuff happens in towns like Fargo!
So let me know what you think. Does this make any sense? Are you seeing any new hybrid genres developing out there? Let me know.
OK, that’s all for now, but I’ll be back for the Oscars with my own take on them!