Fargo William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi Director: Joel Coen Perhaps the whitest of black comedies, the Coen brothers' 1996 movie, Fargo, fits the stereotype of winter being associated with snow and cold weather. However, it doesn't bring to mind cosy fireplaces and festive joy. Instead, Fargo shows the bleak reality of winter in North America. The Coen brothers are expert at making otherwise mundane details thought-provoking, using them to perfectly synthesise the scenery and shots of their films. Fargo is no exception, and its excellence won Joel and Ethan Coen the Academy Award for best original screenplay. The beauty of Fargo lies is in its darkly comic nuances and characters set against the oppressiveness of winter. The 'main' plot involves a car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard, trying to stage his wife's kidnapping so he can cash in on the ransom money he knows his wealthy father-in-law, Wade, will pay. However, the central character is the well-intentioned pregnant policewoman, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who investigates the case after the kidnapping turns into a murderous comedy of errors. Such crimes are out of the ordinary for the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota. Underneath its murky, winter skies - grey and heavy with fresh snow - sit ordinary folk living ordinary lives. Life moves at a slow pace and winter makes it even more stagnant. Just dragging themselves out of bed in the morning to 'fix some eggs' for breakfast requires extra effort for Marge and her husband, Norm. The blundering Jerry is used to this quiet life - and also used to making mistakes. He can't even get his customers' requests correct in his job as a car salesman. His kidnapping plan is ill-conceived and a complete failure. The film's country cottage-style theatrical poster describes it as 'a homespun murder story'. The double entendre of the tagline is apparent - simple, homespun people living simple lives - and a kidnapping plot that is, indeed, spun at home. And which comes unravelled very quickly. And so events in Fargo are clumsy and misplaced - a wrong footing when trudging through the snow; a car skidding off the icy road; a chase slowed by a bulky coat. The fumblings and failings of the everyday are exposed through winter. The season strips things bare, flattens landscapes, and exposes people to the elements - and Jerry to his failings. As he trudges alone across a deserted car park to scrape ice from his car windscreen with increasing frustration at his frailties, he leaves the weight of his burdens in a trail of footprints in the snow. Winter also exposes the murderer to Marge - it is the gaps between the bare trees that allow Marge to spot the tan car she is looking for, leading to the capture of the killer. As winter slows things down, morals decay. But in Marge there is a chance for redemption - with her at the helm of the investigation, and with only 'two more months' until the birth of her child and perhaps the end of winter.