A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
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?
For kids who love interesting stories and characters
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.