Review of 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

o_brother_where_art_thou.jpg Three hapless escaped convicts, Everett (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) evade capture in 1930s Mississippi as they work their way to Everett's home to recover the ill-gotten gains of a bank heist. Along the way they are involved in various adventures including picking up hitchhiker Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King) a young black guitarist then join him to record a hit radio single with a blind disc jockey (Stephen Root), hitching a lift with the exuberant bank robber George “Baby Face” Nelson (Michael Badalucco) in the middle of a police car chase, encounter a trio of beautiful woman washing clothes in the river, meet a one-eyed bible-selling Big Dan Teague (John Goodman) who robs and leaves them on the side of the road…

If this all sounds faintly familiar, it is, as it is a retelling of Homer's Odyssey including a soothsayer telling the three men that “the treasure you seek shall not be the treasure you find.” The slightly thick and bewildered convicts are thrown from one odd character to another as they try to keep one step away from the law. It is all firmly tongue-in-cheek and all the better for it as the trio just roll with each weird situation. One of them turned into a toad? Yep, let's just put him in a box and find a wizard to turn him back into a man (!). With extreme close-ups to each of the characters we are drawn into their sense of bewilderment while we chuckle at the situation. Nothing is ever as it seems and nothing ever seems to go to plan…

Clooney (complete with buck teeth) plays the somewhat more erudite Everett and self-appointed team leader, deliciously against type (though, frankly, Clooney plays more against type than with, it seems). Turturro and Nelson play his blank faced, uneducated companions who throw themselves fully into each equally improbable situation. The rest of the cast pretty much appear in cameos including a deliciously evil John Goodman as Big Dan Teague who you just know is going to be trouble.

Amusing and fun film from the Coen brothers. Quirky (though perhaps sometimes a bit TOO quirky), odd and refreshing.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-06-20

Directed by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Studio: Touchstone Pictures

Year: 2000

Length: 107 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Other reviewed films by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen:

Other reviewed films by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen: