The Coen brothers have been hugely successful in the world of film making. Joel and Ethan Coen have produced hit after hit including Fargo, The Big Lebowski and True Grit (to name but a few). Released in 1991, Barton Fink is a genre defying movie that has since garnered a huge amount of critical praise and still causes discussions to this very day.

Barton Fink is a writer who has made it big on Broadway, because of his success Hollywood now has that ‘Barton Fink feeling’ and he has been hired by a huge movie company to write a motion picture about a wrestler. Unfortunately, Barton Fink has writer’s block and it is not until he enlists the help of able assistant Audrey and his neighbour at the hotel, Charlie, that he manages to find some real-life inspiration from a very sinister source.

In the title role, John Turturro is absolutely fantastic and was unfortunate to miss out on an Oscar nomination in my opinion. His portrayal of the socially conscious and kind of awkward writer is a very good one and really peaks interest in the character of Barton Fink. John Goodman as Charlie Meadows, Barton Fink’s neighbour and new ‘friend’, also pulls off a good performance and puts across a warm feeling of that ‘ordinary man’ that  Fink describes. Although, out of all the performances in the film it is Steve Buscemi’s very small part as Chet that I really enjoyed; unfortunately Chet doesn’t feature that much (it would probably distract from the point of the film if he did), but Buscemi makes him a character that will never be forgotten in reference to this film with his comedic turn.

Visually and in terms of its direction, Barton Fink is an absolute masterpiece. The shots, symbolism, transitions and the use of mise-en-scene are encapsulated almost to perfection within the screen and the world of Barton Fink, it’s an absolute delight to look at. However, I feel that the story lacks a little bit of something special, a certain spark seems to have gone missing and the Coen brothers couldn’t find it, in my opinion. The first half of the film, I felt, drags an awful lot and it seems like it’s getting pretty boring in some places. But the pace picks up in the second half of the film and a lot of the deeper meanings of Barton Fink come through here; the action picks up, relationships are tried and characters change. If you can put aside the fact that it seems like halfway through the film the Coen brothers decided to change their story completely then you will enjoy the film.

I get the impression that Barton Fink is a film that needs to be watched on more than one occasion to truly enjoy this work of art, but unfortunately this is the first time I have watched it and, whilst I now know what to look out for in repeated viewings, I was getting bored watching it.I do plan on watching it again and maybe I will change my opinion of the first half of the film as it is this that I feel lets Barton Fink down.

An enjoyable film but not one of the Coen brothers’ best in my opinion.

My Rating: 6/10

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