Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Big Lebowski (1998, Joel Coen)

Funny how most viewers and even critics simply shrug off the fact that Lebowski is stuck in the 60s, because honestly, I think the fish-out-of-water formula is the key to why this movie works so well. The unreformed hippie meets up with a Raymond Chandler plot- this is more or less The Big Sleep, with some Coen-style wrinkles added- and nothing quite turns out as it should. Whereas Marlowe's efforts, intentional or accidental, usually bring him closer to the truth, The Dude keeps running into dead ends and slammed doors. Is it simply that he's listless, or is it the more confounding world he lives in? It's both, really. Not only is The Dude out of place in the plot, but the plot is strangely out of place in near-contemporary L.A. But while the storyline never pans out in a satisfying way, that's the point (Sam Elliott's wrap-it-all-up final monologue is the final, ironic nail in the coffin if you're paying attention). But while the story and the setting don't quite mesh, The Dude fits in perfectly, one of those only-in-L.A. types that populate the world of the film. This is not the cops'n'robbers L.A. of detective fiction, but a circus of humanity in which The Dude can co-exist with a rich-bitch artist, a yammering millionaire, a body-stockinged pederast, a sarsaparilla swilling cowboy, and John Milius as a security store owner. Rating: ***1/2.

No comments: