Barton Fink (1991) - Rotten Tomatoes

Barton Fink (1991)



Critic Consensus: Twisty and unsettling, the Coen brothers' satirical tale of a 1940s playwright struggling with writer's block is packed with their trademark sense of humor and terrific performances from its cast.

Movie Info

The title character, played by John Turturro, is a Broadway playwright, based on Clifford Odets, lured to Hollywood with the promise of untold riches by a boorish studio chieftain (played by Michael Lerner as a combination of Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn). Despising the film capital and everything it stands for, Barton Fink comes down with an acute case of writer's block. He is looked after by a secretary (Judy Davis) who has been acting as a ghost writer for an alcoholic screenwriter (John Mahoney, playing a character based on William Faulkner). Also keeping tabs on Fink is a garrulous traveling salesman (John Goodman), the most likeable, stable character in the picture. And then comes the plot twist to end all plot twists, plunging Barton Fink into a surreal nightmare that would make Hieronymus Bosch look like a house painter. Once more, Ethan and Joel Coen serve up a smorgasbord of quirkiness and kinkiness, where nothing is what it seems and nothing turns out as planned. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: R (for language and some scenes of violence.)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 20, 2003
20th Century Fox


John Turturro
as Barton Fink
John Goodman
as Charlie Meadows
Judy Davis
as Audrey
David Warrilow
as Garland Stanford
Richard Portnow
as Detective Mastrionot...
Christopher Murney
as Detective Deutsch
Megan Faye
as Poppy Carnahan
Lance Davis
as Richard St. Claire
Jack Denbo
as Stagehand
Max Grodénchik
as Clapper Boy
Darwyn Swalve
as Wrestler
Gayle Vance
as Geisler's Secretary
Frances McDormand
as Voice of Stage Actre...
Barry Sonnenfeld
as Page Calling for Bar...
Meagen Fay
as Pippy Carnahan
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Barton Fink

Critic Reviews for Barton Fink

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (13)

It's at its best when young Barton Fink simply stares at a picture of a bathing beauty contemplating the ocean -- a Hollywood dream.

Full Review… | January 16, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Gnomic, claustrophobic, hallucinatory, just plain weird, it is the kind of movie critics can soak up thousands of words analyzing and cinephiles can soak up at least three espressos arguing their way through.

Full Review… | October 13, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Again the Coens take familiar movie tropes and twist them into something new. This may be their most haunting movie.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Scene after scene is filled with a ferocious strength and humor.

Full Review… | November 6, 2007
Top Critic

This creepy satire is full of laughs and flaky twists, but by the end you may still be scratching your head.

Full Review… | November 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Somehow everything coheres, thanks to the Coens' superb writing and assured direction, and a roster of marvellous performances. The result works on numerous levels, thrilling the mind, ears and eyes, and racking the nerves.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Barton Fink



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


An always smart and intriguing film that combines acid criticism (especially of Hollywood) and a surreal feel of nightmare the way the Coen brothers do best, with a cynical, sophisticated sense of humor, priceless dialogue and a delicious gallery of fascinating characters.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Barton Fink is a great film directed by the Coen Brothers, and it tells a really compelling story based on a smartly, well written screenplay that only the Coen Brothers could write. Each of their films are unique in their own way and this is very much the case with this impressive movie. A talented Playwright goes to Hollywood to start work on his first screenplay, and he discovers that Hollywood is much harder than what he thought it was going to be. The portrayal of Barton Fink is immaculate in the hands of actor John Torturro, who has done some impressive work with the Coens since. With this film, he really displays the talent that he uses to great advantage, and you are simply captivated by his performance. This is a superb drama film that is among their best piece of work. With a brilliant cast at their disposal, and a well written script, Barton Fink is a must watch for viewers that enjoy a compelling dramatic work. Barton Fink isn't a perfect film, but nonetheless it is a fine example of why the Coen Brothers are terrific filmmakers who can tell an engaging story. Barton Fink is a well crafted picture that showcases great talent on-screen and it is a film that stands out among the Coen Brothers strongest efforts. That is a strong statement, because each of their efforts are well executed, well thought out storylines and effective performances that really make their work stand out among other directors. I really enjoyed the film, and thought that the cast and story were quite wonderful, and it could have been better in some areas, but overall this is yet another solid piece of cinema from two directors who know how to spin a terrific yarn.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Barton Fink Quotes

– Submitted by Jamey B (15 months ago)
– Submitted by steve l (2 years ago)
– Submitted by John F (2 years ago)
– Submitted by John F (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Barton Fink on our Movie forum!