The Big Lebowski

09  MAY
Times like these call for a Big Lebowski.

Directed by  Joel Coen
Written by  Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring:  Jeff Bridges (The Dude)
John Goodman (Walter Sobchak)
Julianne Moore (Maude Lebowski)
Steve Buscemi (Donny)
David Huddleston (The Big Lebowski)
John Turturro (Jesus Quintana)
Sam Elliott (The Stranger)
Runtime: 117 minutes

I always considered Fargo as a highly overrated movie, I found it quite good but not particularly worth any special note, let alone an Oscar and all the positive comments I read about it. So I went to see The Big Lebowski hoping to find a better movie from the Coen brothers or maybe just hoping to get what I missed in Fargo, I always wondered if I simply didn't understand it... It's hard for me to tell if it has been a good or a bad move but now I am even more sure than before that the movies from the Coen brothers are not for me!

The basis of the story is rather simple: Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, an incredibly lazy and weird bowling player, gets kicked and has a rug ruined by a couple of nasty crooks who confused him for "The Big Lebowski", a rich man who seems to owe them some money. However The Dude, who only wants a new carpet, enters in a strange world of kidnapping, ransoms, porn makers, new age artists, german nihilists and other weird characters!

The better moments of the movie are obviously related to these strange people but since this was not enough to fill the whole run time, there are a number of surreal situations as dreamt by The Dude that are simply too bizarre to be explained! This strange organisation of the plot provides a number of surprising and unexpected scenes, many funny moments and a few good and original shots, including a view from inside a bowling ball rolling against the pins...

Another fairly good idea is the narrator whose voice is heard at the beginning of the movie and who appears later as The Stranger sitting at the bowling bar speaking to The Dude. Regarding the actors, they are all quite good even if all of them played a rather linear and monodimensional character. However, I don't want to criticize this too much, the movie is clearly aimed to something different than describing believable characters!

All these positive comments may lead to think that I liked this movie. Unfortunately, it clearly had a number of good things and while I don't fully like its 'style' I would have enjoyed it if it wasn't for its most negative peculiarity: it is boring, terribly boring! I can't find a way to explain this precisely, maybe the dialogue were prolix, maybe there were some 'dead' moments, maybe it was only too long... anyway the result was that I almost fell asleep!

Moreover, there are a few things for which I couldn't find an explanation, parts that I expected to be developed more deeply and other minor annoying points. For example, why the story has been so ostensibly placed during the Gulf War completely escapes me. If this was meant only to prepare the scene with Saddam Hussein giving bowling shoes to The Dude then it seems a bit exaggerate and useless to me. If there was a political satire or criticism I completely missed it...

Rating: 6.0  **

Links:  Official Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999