FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” stars George Clooney (Tomorrowland, Gravity), Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk , Lincoln), John Turturro (Transformers , Miller’s Crossing), John Goodman (Monsters Inc., Roseanne [TV series]), Holly Hunter (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Incredibles), Charles Durning (The Sting, Tootsie), Chris Thomas King (Ray, The Mechanic), Wayne Duvall (Prisoners, Apollo 13), Michael Badalucco (The Practice [TV series], Léon: The Professional), and Stephen Root (Office Space, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story). It is written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo , Blood Simple). Based on Homer’s “Odyssey,” this film follows three convicts named Everett (Clooney), Pete (Turturro), and Delmar (Nelson) who escape their imprisonment to retrieve hidden treasure that will set them good for life. However, their journey will be plagued with many bizarre and outrageous hardships.
In total, I have seen “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” one time; way back in my freshman year of high school because we were reading “The Odyssey.” Around that time, I never considered film to be a passion but rather something entertaining to pass the time, so it was only a matter of time until I would be drawn back in to analyze this majestic picture crafted by the ever-amazing Coen brothers, whom I did a directorial marathon of last year. It has been a while since I’ve read “The Odyssey,” so many of the references made to it in this feature went unnoticed, though I won’t let that stop me from enjoying, let alone awarding points to, this picture. Cinematically, this is a beautifully orchestrated movie, filled with rustic locations set in a time that pokes jokes at itself. I loved the scenery and atmosphere this film presented, as well as the color grading, which was the first instance where a movie was digitally color graded (that is insane considering how it took until the year 2000 to do so). Being as how it is set in 1930s Mississippi, all of the dialogue is extremely country, which is actually one of the best attributes to viewing this piece of cinema. I loved the way these characters talked, as well as their lifestyle. It felt as if I was looking back in time, where bluegrass was dominant, the KKK was more feared than ever, and political campaigns were…well…that’s actually been consistently the same. The Coen brothers know how to depict this culture; I got a taste of that when I saw their comedy “Raising Arizona.” All of their characters add grit and humor to this fun plot all at once. The main three (Clooney, Turturro, and Nelson) have the best of chemistry, and deliver stellar performances to really mold this wacky tale together. Many average popcorn viewers may not understand or like much of it, unless they’ve read “The Odyssey” and aren’t offended by animal cruelty and the use of the “N” word, but for those who enjoy a good yokel movie with heavy story weight, I would point you out to this. Besides the performances and the cinematography, one thing I really enjoyed in this viewing experience is its sense of no holds barred. The story walks down many different paths, all of which feel like their own little adventures making up one broad tale, which is essentially what “The Odyssey” is. Each conflict these goofballs ran into was engaging, thrilling, and just flat-out hilarious. I can recall just about all of them considering how most of the scenes are so iconic. This isn’t a release that boasts A-list stars, nor does it have a plot the whole family can take part in, but it is special in what it doesn’t do. I took immense joy in seeing these convicts getting baptized, running into Baby Face Nelson, and getting beaten the crap out of by a Bible salesman. It’s wacky, yet controlled in its own silliness because of how grungy this story is. Also, much of the bluegrass and lifestyle reminds me of my grandfather, so that is always a comfort to take in (“I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” by the Soggy Bottom Boys is too good of a song to pass up). If there were anything I can state that would be a con, it would all lie in how there isn’t really a tangent for these characters to glide across in terms of the story. Yes, I praised this film for how its scenes are memorable, but really, the fact that this picture doesn’t have a plot that is level-headed with the resolution can hinder its overall grading. Granted, it’s not by much, considering how it takes from “The Odyssey” and is thoroughly entertaining, but a con is a con. In the end, if you have yet to see this, please do. It is yet another Coen brothers classic to add to their list, as well as a film buff’s list in general, and I take pride in having seen it once more. FINAL SCORE: 96%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: