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The Big Lebowski - Blu-ray Review

The Big Lebowski

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

THE Coen brothers have delivered some classics in their time (from Raising Arizona to the recent True Grit) but even so few are remembered with as much affection as The Big Lebowski.

One of the main reasons for this is the film’s central character The Dude (played by Jeff Bridges), who has inspired a cult following and a devoted following of similarly laid back folk.

Thanks to his unique attitude to life and some of his cult classic musings, The Dude is one of Hollywood’s great characters – after all, ‘the Dude will abide’ – which makes watching his adventure a continually rewarding pleasure.

The Coens’ film therefore follows this ultimate LA slacker with a passion for bowling, white russians and marijuana, as he becomes mistaken for millionaire businessman Jeffrey Lebowski and involved in a kidnapping and ransom of which he knows nothing about.

A sequence of events unfolds which involves thugs peeing on The Dude’s favourite rug, a briefcase full of dirty underwear being thrown from The Dude’s car and a severed toe with green nail polish turning up in the mail.

Attempting to make sense of it all (and stay alive) is The Dude, whose best friends Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) provide the best support they can.

With its rich dialogue, stoner comedy and memorable characters, The Big Lebowski is one of those films that really delivers a 5-star cinematic treat.

Aside from Bridges (on career-best form), Goodman is brilliant as the angry Walter (the complete opposite of The Dude’s laidback persona), Buscemi is great as Donny and there’s wonderful support from John Turturro (so memorable and yet so brief as rival bowler Jesus), Julianne Moore, as Maude Lebowski, and Peter Stormare, as one of the nihilists on The Dude’s trail.

Watch out, too, for early roles from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tara Reid, as well as David Thewlis, Ben Gazzara and Sam Elliott (as the gravel-throated narrator).

You’ll laugh, you’ll be touched, you’ll want to adopt a new lifestyle… with a penchant for white russians.

The Blu-ray release of the film merely heightens the pleasure, not only through the crystal-clear print (which feels like watching an old favourite for the first time again), but also with a great bunch of extras, including the 10-year feature The Dude Abides, a Jeff Bridges photo book and a making of documentary.

It is, perhaps, a little disappointing not to have something more recent (as most of the features have existed in DVD form at some point) but the packaging of the Blu-ray is also superb, given that it comes in a unique hard backed digibook with a 24-page colour booklet.

It really is a movie to treasure from a filmmaking partnership that is no stranger to delivering classics.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 97mins
UK Blu-ray Release: August 22, 2011