Detours of absurdity: Coen brothers’ Fargoin the noir melting pot of genre patterns
The idea of film noir, especially neo-noir, viewed as a stable and clear genre has as many supporters as detractors. The controversy is nothing new, and a compromise is still elusive. The reason for such an impasse is not merely the intransigent stance of opponents, the strength of their arguments, but is also a result of the hybridization of genres in main stream cinema and elsewhere. I discuss the problem presented by film noir in the context of the question of generic identity on the example of the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning Fargo. The movie is an interesting case study as it does not make use of any of the genres typical for film noir in its unadulterated form i.e. genres associated with film noir in its classical era. In Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen skillfully combine elements of the detective story though not necessarily associated with hard-boiled fiction with crime shows, gangster movie with thrillers about psychopaths, comedy with tragedy and family drama with melodrama of mischance. The result remains the same — the world of Fargo stays noir, dark and pessimistic and permeated with the absurd.