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In 1998 a bizarre comedy by the Coen Brothers was released in theatres, took place in Los Angeles in the early 90’s and despite the box office flop, it was destined to become a cult.
The film describes an odyssey set in Los Angeles, a city where a series of odd episodes takes place that, however, are fun and credible. The Coen brothers mixes different film genres (comedy but also noir, crime and even musical) and opt for an interesting and meticulous directing style, defined by frames that recalls as much of the classical hollywood cinema as the avant-guarde one, using surrealistic dialogues which fill the movie with an unusual, but at the same time absorbing atmosphere, since the audience stands in a scenario out of the ordinary.
Another element that makes this comedy work, is the vary combination of the characters. In fact, if Jeffrey Lebowski (The Dude) is lazy, wears simple clothes, smokes marijuana and spend the week playing bowling with his mates, his best friend Walter, a Vietnam veteran who is quick-tempered and has a violent attitude, is also prone to exaggeration while making hilarious misunderstanding, which leaves the sports fanaticism behind the deeper political topics, like the frequent references to the war in Vietnam. However, The Dude reveals to be the key character of the story, always in the center of every events, even though constantly uninterested: actually, he is quite the opposite of the classic hollywood hero, ready to take action and reach his goal; he seems to be inefficient, a man that takes life as it comes. “The Dude abides” he declares emblematically.
The Big Lebowski is a parody of the Big Hollywood, but also a charming critique to the society, as a result that comes from an original combination of direction, script, performers, locations and costumes. It’s the crazy story of a deadbeat protagonist but yet successful, in its own way. The Dude hasn’t changed after his adventure: there is no morality neither lessons to give inside the Coen universe.
Filippo Fante – Translated by Beatrice Birolo