Barton Fink (Coen Brothers) – A Screenplay Masterpiece

Such is the allure of watching engrossing and dynamic characters like those in Barton Fink, the Coen Brothers 1991 cinematic gem, that if I had my time all over again I would focus every ounce of my efforts on screenwriting. IMDB states, Barton Fink is ‘a renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood‘. It may be little a dark for some tastes, but as black comedy goes this is the blackest and the most biting there is.

This morning, I finished viewing Barton for the second time and I recognised how the Coen Brothers’ writing in this picture is mostly that of irony, like Kaufman in Adaptation. They seem to be writing mainly about themselves in the act of writing, with the fears, trappings, conjecture and allurement of their art in Hollywood and making us ponder questions about our existence (while incorporating 1940’s dialogue no less). Some have even compared this work to a Bergman or Fellini of the 90’s. It lacks an underlying morality and an absence of good and bad, which gives the viewer a feeling that it could go anywhere.

Barton Fink 1

John Goodman who appears in many Coen Brothers movies, most notably The Big Lebowsky and more recently Inside Llewyn Davis is a tour de force in Barton Fink and should have been nominated for an Academy award.

Related links:
1. Here is a very recent interview with John Goodman on David Letterman about his latest Coen Brothers effort – Inside Llewyn Davis.
2. On an episode of Screen Bites, Jeremy, Jared, and Justin discuss the careers of Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as name their favorite and least favorite of their films here.
3. I’m A Writer! // A Review of ‘Barton Fink’ (
4. Clear as folk > The Coen brothers’ latest film echoes the filmmakers’ 1991 flick Barton Fink. (
5. The Coen brothers grow up (

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV

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