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Soundtrack review: Fargo (Jeff Russo, 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Fargo (Jeff Russo, 2014)


Carter Burwell’s main theme from the Fargo movie was one of the first film / TV show movie tracks to really blow me away. The rest of the score wasn’t as brilliant, it was quite forgettable actually, but that loud and haunting main theme remains one of my favorites and has stuck with me all these years.
18 years later they made a TV show after the movie…they kept that chilling, cold and dark atmosphere and poured it into 10 unforgettable hours. Billy Bob Thornton showed his incredible talent in playing the perfect villain, while Martin Freeman’s character’s evolution was like a condensed version of Walter White’s road from Breaking Bad. It really is one of the best shows in recent years, and I stood glued to the TV for its duration. I liked it even more than the movie. Jeff Russo wrote the score, and he managed to capture the atmosphere of “Fargo” even better than Burwell. Just as the show follows the movie, but not quite, it’s the same with the main theme: it’s a step brother of the movie theme, stemmed from the same root but different. It has its own identity, as does the rest of the score. There’s no hope in the music, no light…everything is minimalistic and bleak, and the strings are intense and depressing. The score serves as a brilliant companion to the show, and every time I might want to enter that cold and unforgiving atmosphere, I can just play a few tracks from it. There is no way the TV show would have worked for me without Jeff Russo’s music.
Still, I would have liked to get more great themes. Except the main one and its reprise at the end of the score (my favorite cue of the album), there’s not a lot to single out. I really enjoyed the Malvo cues and Gus’ theme, but many of the other cues work better in context. Even so, it’s one of the scores I won’t erase from my iPod because I love the show so much and I want to remember it every now and then through my favorite themes…Even writing about it makes me want to go and watch the 10 episodes all over again.
Oh, and is this one of the most brilliant and unique album covers or what?
My ratings:
Cue rating: 72 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 54
Album excellence: 38%
Cues to listen to:
Bemidji, MN (Fargo Series Main Theme)
Fish Head
Lester as Malvo
Malvo Reinvents
Malvo (Eyes Wide)
Gus and Molly
Malvo’s Briefcase
Thin Ice
Bemidji, MN (Reprise)
Highway Snow (Fargo Series End Credits)
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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