Barton Fink. 1991. USA. Directed by Joel Coen. Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. With John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis. 35mm. 116 min.
Evoking the Hollywood of Nathanael West’s 1939 novel The Day of the Locust, Barton Fink follows the titular New York playwright as he heads to Hollywood to write screenplays for Capitol Pictures. The highbrow and somewhat prudish Barton is tasked with writing a boxing picture for actor Wallace Beery. Somewhat horrified with his assignment, he decamps to the Earle Hotel in Los Angeles, an art deco edifice with creepy hallways and empty guestrooms, where he meets his next-door neighbor, Charlie Meadows. Is Charlie real or a character floating around in Barton’s psyche? Is any of what goes on actually happening?