Peaceful Stoner’s review published on Letterboxd :
This is a movie with intense and extreme symbolism. Initially I thought I was in for another of the Coen Brother's dark, humorous movies. But, no this was something else. This is an intricate and richly sophisticated movie. This film requires patience and loads of it. Firstly, I felt, it was not very entertaining. The look and feel also might make you miffed. The setting, in the goddamned hotel is annoying. The very look of John Turturro as Barton Fink itself was aggravating and made me want to pull my hair off. But this was the overlay beneath which there were a lot of treasures hidden by the Coens.
Some of the things I noticed are,
The Hotel they live in, I think was a symbolic way to project the mid-life crisis of the characters. Fink does not write a single meaningful thing after he checks in there. When he checks in, he is asked whether he is a resident or a transient. He says he is gonna be there indefinitely. That means he would be stuck in this life crisis of mental blocks, not knowing what to think, not knowing what to write, indefinitely. The scenes that follow are a totally dry. I mean they are as dry as The Sahara desert. These are reflection of the dryness of thoughts that Fink experiences.
John Goodman on the other hand is a person who has been stuck in the place for a long time. He has no aspirations of getting out of it and more depressing is that he cannot get out of it. He does a job which is equally boring and non-rewarding as the place. He explains that he hears everything that goes on in the Hotel. I think this was allegorical and this meant he could see everything that goes on in the world but he could do nothing about it. And when he gets hot in the hotel, his ears ooze out a fluid. This i thought was another analogy which meant when the world burns his eyes shed tears but he could do nothing more. The helplessness and the anger created by the inability to do something more is welled up inside Charlie Meadows.
W.P. Mayhew is a character which I viewed as a person who has all the ingredients i.e. wealth, good knowledge, a great companion but does not make use of it to do something creative and is too lazy to get out of his couch and start his work. He complains about silly things which are stopping him from working and he drinks to exaggerate these petty reasons. That is reason why Fink gets overtly dissatisfied and angered.
Michael Lerner as the Movie producer is the only actual non symbolical typical Coen character in the movie. His character and dialogues are filled with a lot of satire and pokes at how and what is really going on in Hollywood. Loved what he does in the movie.
John Goodman is revealed as a killer in the last part of the movie. When questioned by Fink he replies that he was just trying to help people out. I personally think that he kills because he could find anything more interesting to do with his life. There is a scene in the movie where he tells the he wished he had a dame like his neighbour did. He does not have a woman in his life, nor does he has a place to live in peace, nor a job which interests him or pays him well. So he just kills people who make fun of his weight or his personality to give himself satisfaction. It has become for him like an acquired taste. As far as why he killed Audrey, he was just being jealous, that Fink had chosen this girl over him to help him with his writing. To help Fink would have meant to him a lot I guess as he was always telling about helping other people. But whenever he tried to help him out and was about to tell a story or teach him about wrestling, Fink’ egoistic character makes him, ignores Charlie. But the killing actually sparks Fink's brain from the lazy inactive spot it was in, to start writing and finish the story. So in-evidently Charlie has helped Fink to accomplish his mission.
Fink sees a portrait of a woman in his hotel room. And the Coens re-create an exact scene in real life for Fink. He sees the real woman as plainly, as dryly, without any emotional involvement as he looks at the picture in his room. This according to me is also an analogy. We spend our lives praying for an opportunity to prove ourselves, complaining about why God has not given us what he has given others. But when the opportunity comes and is begging to be realized, we are so stuck in our complaining mode that we do not even try be aware of what God has placed before us to notice.
As far as the box which goes unopened, I think it was symbolisation of the human mind. I thought the Coens meant to tell that, unless you are willing to explore what is inside your mind, what you are interested in, what you are really capable of you, will never be able achieve anything that you hope to achieve.