Barton Fink

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Barton Fink Movie Poster Image
Bizarre Hollywood dream factory. Teens only.
  • R
  • 1991
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Onscreen violence consists of a very bloody murder, gruesome gunplay, and minor fistfights. Implied off-screen violence is highly disturbing, with discussions of murder and dismemberment.


One tame sex scene.


Some cursing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character is an alcoholic.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Barton Fink isn't for kids.Young teens may also find this film very disturbing -- it includes very graphic violence and unclear definitions of right and wrong. The police do not act responsibly.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJim24 January 19, 2019
This movie’s content is similar to Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, where nearly all the violence is alluded to or shown post-attack. There’s a lot less of it in t... Continue reading
Parent of a 15 and 15-year-old Written byxmasterxofxmyxd... August 8, 2009


Barton Fink is simply amazing, it will leave you breathless, and should be mandatory viewing for any movie buff. It is one of the most thought provoking movies... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byleahxo June 29, 2011

One Of My Favourites.

Amazing film, surprising twist for sure. I was not aware that things would change so quickly. I thought it was going to be another fluffball Hollywood film. Boy... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byjohnwi312 December 27, 2009

Fascinating and strange. OK for teens.

Surreal, creepy, funny, and deeply interesting. Very enjoyable and unique - there is some violence and creepiness, though, so this is definitely not for kids.

What's the story?

Set in the early 1940s, BARTON FINK traces the bizarre foray of its title character (John Turturro) into the dark underbelly of Hollywood. On the heels of a hit play, the playwright heads to Tinseltown to make the big bucks writing a B-wrestling film. Instead of finding success, he finds himself trapped in a bizarre series of events. While struggling with writer's block at a fleabag hotel, Fink strikes up a friendship with a burly and sweaty insurance salesman (John Goodman) with a dark past, present, and future. This friendship -- and everything else Fink comes in contact with -- goes south as a grizzly turn of events leaves him artistically bankrupt and overall aimless.

Is it any good?

In classic Coen brothers style, the film skillfully combines eerily wacky characters with offbeat dark scenarios. Cinematography and design elements coalesce to create a world which welcomes the film's larger-than-life characters, odd situations, and quick-paced dialogue. Barton Fink was the first film to win all three major awards at the Cannes Film Festival -- Palme D'or, Best Director, and Best Actor.

Turturro uses his awkward appearance and nervous demeanor to create an alienated artist trapped in a hellish Hollywood. John Mahoney's alcoholic genius, Judy Davis's prolific secretary, and Michael Lerner's studio exec help to round out the weird scenario. Learner earned an Academy Award for his performance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Barton Fink. How does it make you feel?

  • This movie also begs questions about the place of art in Hollywood. What do the viewers think about the film's construction of Hollywood? Is film art or commerce? This film also presents an excellent opportunity to discuss film style.

  • The Coen brothers' style contrasts to that of classical Hollywood cinema in various ways. How does it differ in terms of narrative? Character development? Aesthetics?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love interesting stories and characters

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