Barton Fink

1991

Barton Fink (1991)

TOMATOMETER

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.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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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, Rovi

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Cast

John Turturro
as Barton Fink
John Goodman
as Charlie Meadows
Judy Davis
as Audrey
David Warrilow
as Garland Stanford
Richard Portnow
as Detective Mastrionotti
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 Actress
Barry Sonnenfeld
as Page Calling for Barton Fink
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Critic Reviews for Barton Fink

All Critics (57) | 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.

Jan 16, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 13, 2009 | Full Review…

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

Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…
Newsweek
Top Critic

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

Nov 6, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

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

Nov 6, 2007 | Full Review…

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.

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

Audience Reviews for Barton Fink

½

Good performances pepper this work about ... well, what is it about? The naivete of youthful idealism? The plasticity of Hollywood maybe? Or maybe the latent savagery of the world at large? Any who, it's all thrown into the pot here and stirred to a frothy burn. The Coens seem to have mastered the fine old world skill of speaking at length very intelligently while never in fact saying a blessed thing. Never uninteresting and fascinating to observe. .. for a bit.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

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Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

½

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
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
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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