Holy shit man. That was my reaction after seeing this movie. Damn this was a darkass movie but shit, who am I kidding, it’s a Coen Brothers movie. Duh!
Idealistic playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) believes writing should reveal the hopes, dreams and tragedies of the common man. When Hollywood taps him to write a movie, Fink develops severe writer’s block and soon falls victim to a strange sequence of events. Unable to combine his deep-seated ethics with Tinseltown’s frivolity, the disillusioned and desperate Fink winds up involved in a murder investigation.
The Coen Bros. know how to tell a story and as in life, stories are not all pretty and happy. All of their movies are basically all different genres rolled into one film but this one is the strangest of all: it combines film noir, really dark comedy, and a little bit of horror. This is probably one of the strangest films about Hollywood that I’ve ever seen, and mostly all films about Hollywood are strange.
The film is basically taken inside the mind of Barton Fink and you see everything and how it is for him. He gains writer’s block and that’s when things start to gay hay-wire. I liked how it was stylized with symbolism that I usually didn’t get, but I think that the Coens could have made it a little more clearer. I found myself fighting what was real and what was fiction, rather than actually watching the movie and understanding the hidden messages.
But the problem is that as the film gets stranger and stranger, I started to get more and more confused with the movie itself. There have been plenty of films with how Hollywood looks, but this is one of how it is a state of mind. The movie tries to be more mysterious than actually making sense, and although most of its main messages are brought up, I think the central message of Hollywood itself wasn’t brought up so well.
Despite the confusion, The Coen Brothers are what makes this film its best. They use lighting and a gritty setting to create the mood for the film, even without really getting deeper into the plot. I liked this and I did feel like I was some place that wasn’t safe and very psychological. It looks like it was literally filmed in the 40s, with some areas of the world and how beautifully real they actually look.
Now this cast is what will surely blow you away. John Tuturro probably plays one of his greatest roles yet as a struggling writer who gains writer’s block and just cannot get out of it, he fully captures this man and becomes enraveled in Barton Fink. The best out of the whole supporting cast is definetly John Goodman. At first he plays this lovable, sweet, kind-hearted guy that really does bring some heart to the film, but by the end that all changes and he shows that magnificentially.
One last thing about this film is that almost every minute you just have got to watch for the symbolism, cause by the end your going start wondering what was ever solved in the first place.
Consensus: Barton Fink is a very confusing and strange piece of work from The Coens, but features effective mood changes with some beautiful set designs, and two amazing lead performances from Goodman and Tuturro.