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The Big Lebowski

Digital Three Stars
It's strange when you come to watch a film that is considering to be, or is undoubtedly going to end up as, a cult classic, especially when you've been writing about and watching films for years and years. The perfect example is The Big Lebowski. I mentioned on Twitter that I was just sitting down to watch it and had never seen it before and I was surprised at the responses which included a number of people who were equally surprised that I had never seen it and were even shocked.

I had never a real burning desire to see the film as I'm not the massive fan of Coen's as so many are. Then came the digital release on iTunes and I was asked to take a look at it for a review, and as usual with all the material I agree to review, no restrictions, whatever I think of the film is what I write.

Plot.pngTheBigLebowski.jpgThe Big Lebowski tells the story of Jeffrey Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges, also known as The Dude, a man with no job who likes to drink White Russians and bowl with his friends Walter Sobchak, played by John Goodman, and Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos, played by Steve Buscemi. One day two men break into his house and demand the repayment of a loan he has taken, a loan he has no knowledge of, and pee on his rug. Quickly it becomes apparent that they've got the wrong person, they were after another Lebowski and so The Dude tracks down the big Lebowski and gets a replacement rug. That's not the end of it though as the big Lebowski calls The Dude back and asks him to find his recently kidnapped young wife for him, and from here he's tied up with a multi-stranded story of crossing and double crossing.


TheFilm.pngI have to admit I did struggle to get into the film to begin with. I think some of this is down to the fact that everyone was telling me that I would like it, or rather I should love it, and the pressure was clear that if I didn't I would be going against popular opinion. This feeling of pressure wasn't made any easier by that fact that I'm not one of these people that think the Coen brothers deliver fantastic films time and time again.

Another aspect to remember is how much I've heard about the film, the tone, the story and what to expect, taken from people's cherry picked moments and the film itself didn't seem to fit with these expectations I've been given.

Is this perhaps describing the curse that cult films can face? That the fans build up the expectations and hype around the film so much that they end up building barriers around the film for new fans and raise expectations beyond that which the film can deliver?

I really felt the resistance trying to get any real connection to the character of The Dude as he was just so apathetic, uninvolved and mindless about anything happening around him it began to irritate me. However come later in the film I'd warmed to the story and the characters, and in particular I started to take to the character of the Dude.

What's interesting is that I think this came, not through a connection with the character of the Dude, but actually through the other characters drawing me in to the story and making me forget about what I'm supposed to feel. This especially came through characters like John Goodman's and the many well cast secondary characters like Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro, and their interactions with one another. I felt that with the Dude doing next to nothing, it was down to everyone else around him to get me interested in the film, and they did.

I enjoyed the way the story played out like a film noir private eye story where the central character feels a little like Cary Grant at the beginning of North by Northwest except here that feeling carries through the whole film and the main character has no desire to really get involved and try to get to the bottom of the events. He just lets things happen around him and people assume, events continue, and somewhere along the way they all work out as life just goes on, or doesn't.

That said there are lots of loose ends, of unexplored characters, some flat and some caricature like, and if it wasn't for the excellent character of and actor Sam Elliot I don't think I'd have realised the film was actually ending. His bookending of the film did manage to provide that sense of closure that I feel the rest of the film didn't fully deliver, but unfortunately he was hardly in the film.

There are some great scenes though, and I would mainly point to the dream sequences as being the best, the second sequence is funny and entertaining, and through the rest of the film there were some moments that did make me laugh out loud.

Yet I have to admit it didn't capture me like the cult classic it is labelled with should have. Perhaps it is down to that peer pressure that I said before, the expectation that I'll love it because so many people say that should be the case, but that was not the case for me. I didn't love it. There were definitely moments, but they didn't last anywhere near as long enough and didn't manage to make the film live up to the reputation it now has.

Picture.pngiTunes default
The first shot shows that the film doesn't seem to have undergone any real digital rework for the dark shot is noisy and throughout the film you do notice that the picture is very grainy in places, particularly the darker shots where the dark shading begins to break down.


Audio.pngStereo
The Big Lebowski carries a pretty good soundtrack, but there are a couple of scenes where the lip sync drifted out just enough to make you notice it and for it to become an annoying problem for that scene. However I did just notice it for two scenes and once the scene was done I didn't notice it again.


Overall.pngThe Big Lebowski didn't live up to the hype for me. It's enjoyable, but to be honest there wasn't really enough to capture my imagination or entertain me. I giggled and laughed at a few places, but I did feel as though there were moments in the film that worked rather than the entire film working. John Goodman was by far the best thing about the film, and that includes the story, with the appearance of Sam Elliot lighting things up for a few scenes.

The constant references and hype have definitely had an impact on this film for me and it doesn't live up to the test of time. It has its moments, but as a film it just doesn't deliver what everyone else has promised.

That said the release on digital will be perfect for the fan base and those who love it will undoubtedly love the fact that The Dude is here in another format for them to see.




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Comments

Couldn't agree more. Very much a 3/5 movie, although I have not seen it since the cinema.

Phew, I thought I was going to face a tirade of abuse for that review!

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Movable Type 3.34

Fuck the critics. They're like eunuchs. They can tell you how to do it, but they can't do it themselves.
- Harry Cohn