FT Top 100 Films
33: THE BIG LEBOWSKI

Martin Skidmore says:

I guess this was among the inevitable inclusions in this list – there must be hatas somewhere among young/ish people, but I don’t know them. Jeff Bridges, one of my absolute favourite actors, plays a slacker who gets embroiled in a Chandleresque kidnap case. If you’ve read Joel’s fiction, you’ll know he does a great noir pastiche, but this doesn’t focus too much on the frankly feeble plot, it just keeps throwing great comedy characters, or caricatures mostly, at us. Joel’s flair for characterisation by the way people speak is at its peak here – Bridges’ laid-back slacker talk, John Goodman’s Viet-vet blunt machismo, the nihilists’ ludicrous cant, it’s all gloriously revealing and funny, even when it has no part in the story, such as John Turturro’s gloriously camp Hispanic bowler. Any film where I don’t feel the need to mention the roles played by Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi and Philip Seymour Hoffman clearly is stuffed with extraordinary characters. It also has the best voiceover narrative ever, from Sam Elliot’s mannered cowboy.

It can be faulted: the ending is not strong, which I guess links in to what is a common problem among PoMo narratives – we (and I mean the writers, even more than most readers) can’t believe a simple, everything-ties-together, happy ever after ending now, can’t believe in completeness and conclusions. (Has this issue, in books and films, been much analysed anywhere? I think I was first alerted to it by Mark S, also of this website, and it is very prevalent.)

The Coen Brothers’ sequence of movies that they wrote as well as directed is, for me, the best sustained run by any filmmakers since, at least, Woody Allen’s prime (and with him we have to ignore that between Annie Hall and Manhattan he made Interiors). Seven wonderful films, and while I don’t know if this is better than, say, Fargo, it’s surely their most delightful.

Do You See