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William H. Macy - whom I liked much better in this film than in the recent Pleasantville - plays a crooked car salesman. He's also a wimp who can't stand up to his domineering, know-it-all father-in-law, who looks down his nose at Macy. In one scene, Macy tries to convince his father-in-law to lend him money for a deal that he feels would "turn out real well" for himself, his wife Jean, and their son, Scott. "Jean and Scott never have to worry," his father-in-law says smugly - and coldly.
At this point Macy is left with no choice but to have his wife kidnapped - her dear old dad will pay the ransom - a large portion going to Macy, smaller amounts going to the kidnappers. Unfortunately, things don't go exactly as planned, and soon the cops are involved.
That's where Margie (Frances McDormand who won an Oscar for this role) comes in. As the Chief of Police in Bemidji, Minnesota, (where there are apparently few crimes to investigate - what this movie has to do with Fargo, which is in North Dakota, isn't entirely clear) Margie is seven months pregnant when several bodies are discovered. (That was the work of two very clumsy criminals Macy hired. One of them, played by Steve Buscemi, provides good comic relief until his partner in crime kills him. Okay, I'll stop giving away the plot now!)
Macy's character was intriguing, but I thought he should have been a little less timid, and there should have been at least one scene where he showed some anger toward his nearly intolerable father-in-law. (He almost seems to think he deserves his father-in-law's contempt!) I guess the moral of this story is that gutless wimps shouldn't seek a life of crime.
Still, along with the wonderful acting and surprises in the plot, Fargo remains a most enjoyable movie.