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The plot of the Coen brothers brilliant black comedy Fargo revolves around Jerry Lundegaard's desperate need for some large sum of money.

Is there any hint at all as to why he needs it or how he managed to get himself into a place where he is so desperate he is willing to trigger the whole fake kidnap?

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The movie never says, but his wife comes from money, and I always assumed he put himself in debt trying to support her in the manner to which she had become accustomed. – Michael Stern Apr 22 '14 at 16:53

2 Answers 2

I have seen the movie several times and just looked up a few reviews, and none of them explicitly mention the reason for the money. According to IMDB's exhaustive plot synopsis, the debts are "anonymous".

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He wants to open his own car dealership. It is evident when he solicits a loan from his father-in-law and his business partner Stan. As he was hopeful that they would loan it to him when they invite him for a meeting, he tries to cancel the ordered kidnapping but they were more interested in getting in the deal themselves and paying him a "finder's fee".

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The deal he mentions to his father-in-law is for a supposed parking lot, not a car dealership. That deal is a sham, meant to get money from his father-in-law so he can pay off a debt. That debt, as I noted in my answer, is never elaborated on in the movie. – Johnny Bones Apr 6 at 20:25

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