In 1941, New York intellectual playwright Barton Fink comes to Hollywood to write a Wallace Beery wrestling picture. Staying in the eerie Hotel Earle, Barton develops severe writer's block. His neighbor, jovial insurance salesman Charlie Meadows, tries to help, but Barton continues to struggle as a bizarre sequence of events distracts him even further from his task. Written by
Scott Renshaw <email@example.com>
A wonderful cast of remarkable, idiosyncratic characters could be enough of a reason to watch this typically offbeat Coen Bros film. John Turturro's titular anti-hero is a well-pitched tough-talking but flaky ideologue. Beside him are deliciously imaginative support roles: John Goodman's charming everyman, John Mahoney's literary lush and Tony Shalhoub's Hollywood middlemanmotormouth. Above all there is the indelible turn of Judy Davis - in a field of broad brush eccentrics, she embraces the general breadth of character whilst arresting the camera as the still point on which the worm turns. Impressive.
I couldn't help myself thinking about Adaptation I'm afraid. It's not the same film by any means. What Charlie Kaufmann achieves is a coherence that has you chuckling and shaking your head as you leave the theatre. The chaos and unravelling of Barton Fink is not only the manner but also the content of the Coens' movie. Don't take this as a criticism then, but as an indication of how the film holds its place in the magpiemagination of their canon - self-sufficiently. 6/10
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