Saturday, 19 February 2011

Yeah, Well. The Dude Abides!

How to start a review of one of my favourite films? The Big Lebowski is almost genre-less. It's mostly comedy, but being the Coen Brothers it's not straightforward comedy; but then it's not the black comedy of True Blood or Fargo. Above all it's a story about an ordinary Dude, who likes bowling, driving around and the occasional acid flash-back, who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or rather with the wrong name.

Jeff Bridges is Jeffrey Lebowski aka: The Dude, a lazy man, who becomes confused with The Big Lebowski (David Huddleston). The Big Lebowski is a successful businessman, but who's young wife Bunny (Tara Reid) disappears. Unfortunately Bunny owes money to a Porn film producer, and when his heavies come to collect, they go to the wrong Lebowski. So The Dude gets caught up in a tale of kidnap, ransom, Nihilists, sex, and of course bowling.

Jeff Bridges is always great in my opinion, but rumour has it that the Coen's had Bridges in mind when they were writing the character of The Dude; and he is just perfect. But not just Jeff, most of the cast is superb. John Goodman gives the best performance of his career as The Dude's best friend: Walter Sobchack. This 'Nam veteran is a great character, has arguably some of the best lines in the film, and on occasion drives the story forward as he influences what The Dude thinks.

                                           "Smokey, this isn't Nam, this is bowling. There are rules!"

John Turturro is also there as the creepy but hilarious Jesus; a fellow competitive bowler with a history of being a sex pest! Add to that the usual Coen brothers crowd - Peter Stormare as a Nihilist, Steve Buscemi as Donny (who essentially gets told to "Shut the Fuck up!" by Walter and then dies of a heart attack at the end!) - as well as great smaller parts by Julianne Moore, David Thewlis, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the Coen's couldn't really go wrong. Of course I can't forget the photography done by Roger Deakins, though there are not so much of his trademark wide panorama shots, he is saving those for No Country for Old Men and True Grit.

                                     Nobody Fucks with the Jesus!

I love this film, one of my all time favourites. If ever I need cheering up, this film will do it; guaranteed laughter within about 5 minutes! So many good moments:

Jackie Treehorn's "sketch" on his notepad.

The Dude getting Donny's ashes in his beard.

Walter and the Dude's reaction to Jesus saying "Liam and me, we're gonna fuck you up!"

The Dude paying for a 69 cent carton of milk by cheque.

Walter telling Donny: "You're like a child who has wandered into the conversation".

I could go on, but I really shouldn't. All the Dude every wanted was his rug back. It really tied the room together!