Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, John Mahoney, Tony Shalhoub, Steve Buscemi
"I'll show you the life of the mind!" The last half hour of Barton Fink was pretty darn amazing. Whenever John Goodman was on screen, I found myself enthralled with the film. Barton Fink has a huge cult following... some people call it the greatest movie of all time. While I'm not one of those people, I can see how someone can get swept up in the craziness of it all. I found the film to be really slow and pretty uninteresting whenever John Goodman wasn't present. Not much happens in the first hour alone, and I didn't really laugh during that time either. It's a movie I'll have to see over and over to truly appreciate, but as it stands I found it to be an above-average surreal experience.
Barton Fink (John Turturro) is a renowned New York playwright that moves to Hollywood to write movie scripts. His first assignment is to write a script for a 'B'-movie about a wrestler. The hotel he stays in is dingy, creepy, and hauntingly quiet. He experiences profound writers-block, and as his deadline draws near the pressure rises. A big, jolly, common-man lives next door named Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), who gives Barton company and friendship during a difficult period of adjustment. Let's just say that as time goes by, things get extremely weird.
Goodman has such a natural acting ability. Every single time I've seen him in a film (The Big Lebowski, Fallen), he's brought the personality and life that was needed. Without him, Barton Fink would have fallen very flat. This is arguably his greatest role. He played a really lovely guy for the most part, then a complete psychopath at the end. The scene where he's running down the burning hallway is, in my opinion, one of the most awesome movies scenes of all time! I just loved the ending of Barton Fink, and that has everything to do with Goodman's performance and the masterful writing from The Coen Brothers.
I'll have to revisit this film again, because many people are seeing something in Barton Fink that I just didn't see. Sure, this is a zany and highly original film, but it's also quite a slow and tedious experience. It took forever to get to the climax, and the very last scene left me a little confused as well. It's surreal, and I like that. In the end, it was John Goodman who saved it from being a very boring film.