‘The Big Lebowski’

by The Coen Brothers

——

If you have seldom heard of a film that is of towering greatness, despite being fairly short on story, then you have seldom heard of the Coen-brothers, two delightful filmmakers who blessed the world with The Big Lebowski in 1998.

Truly, Coen-films generally tend not to have the most interesting of stories, but they always make up for it with a simply magnificent cast of odd characters who deliver elegant and hilarious lines of equally odd dialogue. Jeff Bridges does a first-rate job in the role of the film’s central character Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, whom we follow through a confusing adventure that begins with a rug.

The Dude, who might just be the laziest man in Venice, California, is at home one day minding his own business when two hitmen, working for big-name pornographer Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara), arrive to collect money. They also pee on his carpet. Turns out, though, that they’re at the wrong jeffrey Lebowski’s place – the one they’re looking for is the titular Jeffrey “Big” Lebowski, played by David Huddleston.

After The Dude confronts Big Lebowski about the incident, he is pulled into a grand but a somewhat bemusing adventure, involoving the kidnapping of Big Lebowski’s young wife Bunny (Tara Reid), meeting a group of violent yet cowardly nihilists led by Peter Stormare, encountering intelligent but peculiar feminist and avant-garde artist Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore) who is Big Lebowski’s daughter, talking to Big Lebowski’s sycophant Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who tries hard to be polite and/or jolly at all times and last but not least, training hard to win the upcoming bowling-tournament against former sex-offender Jesus Quintana (John Turturro). The scene where Jesus licks his bowling ball, gets a strike and starts dancing is a brilliant one.

John Goodman and Steve Buscemi do superbly as their respective characters, Walter Sobchak and Donny, who are almost always close to their bowling-buddy The Dude when he needs their help. Watching Walter and The Dude converse as Donny looks on is fun – it is clear that Donny, who isn’t the brightest man alive, tries hard to pay attention, sometimes failing. Not unlike the audience, I believe. Pay attention to his eyes and bemused facial expressions during some of Walter and The Dude’s discussions!

As I’ve stated, the story is not why we’re here. The Big Lebowski all about the characters, their fascinating traits and their sometimes bizarre dialogue. Trying to pay attention to the film’s plot is just going to make you as confused as the protagonist, and perhaps that’s the whole point. The Dude himself does point out what a baffling story he’s gotten himself into, so maybe we are supposed to feel genuinely lost, just like poor, poor Dude?

“This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, a lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder’s head.” All the guy wants is a new rug.

The Big Lebowski is a clever, hilarious, cool and marvelous movie and my favourite out of the Coen-movies. Trust me when I say that you are likely to be quoting many of its great lines of dialogue for years to come after first seeing it. Hopefully, you are also likely to fall in love with it and watch it many times more. That is what happened to me, and for that I’m thankful.

The Dude with Donny and Sobchak.

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