The Coens flirt with not being nihilists. This was made when the brothers were still exacting regionalists and the flat, snow-covered Minnesotan landscapes seem at once to reflect the flattened moral terrain of the films' villains and offer an unblemished canvas upon which sin is marked. 'For a little bit of money' is a reductive view of crime and its causes, but the film makes a good case for pragmatic optimism.
While I do think the film is a success in its observation of a certain violent banality, I also think its legacy is one of the banality of entertainment. To wit, that certain regionalisms be denigrated as barbaric 'decency', that a fairly unphased officer is proffered as one of cinema's finest heroes, and that the above is treated with profundity. My feelings for this film could be deemed 'laughter + guilt'.