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BARTON FINK

Director: JOEL COEN

U.S.A • 1991 • COLOUR • DOLBY STEREO • 117 MIN


CONCEIVED DURING A BOUT OF WRITER’S BLOCK WHICH BESET THE CREATION OF MILLER’S CROSSING, BARTON FINK OPENS WITH A WRY VISUAL QUOTATION FROM CITIZEN KANE. THE YEAR IS 1941—THE YEAR OF KANE—AND NEW YORK PLAYWRIGHT BARTON FINK (JOHN TURTURRO) IS WATCHING HIS LATEST TRIUMPH, A PRETENTIOUS MAGNUM OPUS FILLED WITH THE ‘POETRY OF THE STREETS’.
Alluding heavily to the figure of playwright Clifford Odets, the Coens promptly throw their high-minded anti-hero to wolves as he is lured to write scripts in Hollywood. Assigned to a wrestling picture (‘You know the drill, big men in tights’), he takes up residence in a seedy hotel and suffers a terrible bout of writer’s block. Only Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), a working man Barton professes to like, offers any respite from the gloom. But Barton is too wrapped up in his own creative stagnancy to listen, until Charlie does something dramatic enough to catch his attention. . . .

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