A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.
Robert De Niro,
Jerry works in his father-in-law's car dealership and has gotten himself in financial problems. He tries various schemes to come up with money needed for a reason that is never really explained. It has to be assumed that his huge embezzlement of money from the dealership is about to be discovered by father-in-law. When all else falls through, plans he set in motion earlier for two men to kidnap his wife for ransom to be paid by her wealthy father (who doesn't seem to have the time of day for son-in-law). From the moment of the kidnapping, things go wrong and what was supposed to be a non-violent affair turns bloody with more blood added by the minute. Jerry is upset at the bloodshed, which turns loose a pregnant sheriff from Brainerd, MN who is tenacious in attempting to solve the three murders in her jurisdiction. Written by
William H. Macy stated in an interview that, despite evidence to the contrary, he did hardly any ad-libbing at all. Most of his character's stuttering mannerisms were written in the script exactly the way he does them in the film. See more »
Some billboards, including a "Miller Genuine Draft" billboard in the Twin Cities, did not exist in 1987. See more »
I didn't see this in the theater but saw it the first week it was out for rental, and have enjoyed it ever since. In fact, I probably enjoy this more each time I view it. It's a sick movie, though, make no mistake about that. However, it holds a strange fascination, probably because of the odd characters.
About the story: first, it is NOT a true story as indicated in the movie. That's a lie. It's a fictional kidnapping-turned into murder story with a few bloody scenes, lots of profanity (most of it by Steve Buscemi) and a comedy. Yup, this is pure "black comedy." It's dark humor mixed in with a parody about the way the Scandanavian people in the upper Midwest supposedly speak.
Both William H. Macy and Frances McDormand have some wonderful facial expressions along with their accents. Those two and Buscemi are the lead characters and all three "are a trip." Macy is hilarious; the best character in here, in my opinion. The more I watch this film, the funnier he gets. It's also the best role, I assume, ever for McDormand who was never a star before - or since - this movie. Her character in here, "Marge Gunderson," elevates this movie from just another modern-day sick crime movie, to an original. It's nice to see a wonderful husband-wife relationship, too, as is shown here with her and husband "Norm" (John Lynch).
You have this clean, old-fashioned lady cop (McDormand), a middle-of-the-road bungling car salesman (Macy) and two extreme low-life killers in "Carl Showalter" (Buscemi) and "Gaear Grimsrud" (Peter Stormare) all combining to make this story a mixture not only of people but genres. Other minor characters are strange, too, led by one of Marge's old high school acquaintances "Mike Yanagita" (Steve Park). Add to that some equally-bizarre music (slow violins) and you have this unusual story that brings out the morbid fascination in us viewers.
So, I guess what I am saying is this movie truly is an original, the best film the Coen Brothers have ever made and maybe the rest roles ever for the three main actors, McDormand, Macy and Buscemi.
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