Oh Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Based on the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer
Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter
After encountering a blind man on a railroad pushcart, three escaped convicts begin to make their way towards a great treasure. Ulysses Everett McGill (Clooney), Pete Hogwallop (Turturro), and Delmar O’Donnell (Nelson) soon find themselves betrayed, bewildered, and otherwise beset with a series of strange events. They also discover a number of new friends and enemies, as well as their own hidden talents, as they continue their search.
This is a unique and whimsical film written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen (True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis). This time the Coen brothers created a strange world of the deep South around “The Odyssey”, the epic poem by Homer. The film features a wealth of talent, including George Clooney (The Descendants), John Turturro (Miller’s Crossing), and Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln). The film also stars John Goodman (The Artist) and Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona) in supporting roles. In addition to these great actors, the film also boasts a great amount of musical talent from artists like T-Bone Burnett (The Hunger Games). Burnett worked on developing and recording the soundtrack with a number of talented musicians.
The story, or the way the Coen brothers chose to tell the story, is a great one. The references to “The Odyssey” are fun and nicely woven into the story. For their work, the Coen brothers were nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay. The story also allows for every character in the film to come across as a caricature, allowing the story to emphasize their unique characteristics. This also allows the music to play a more direct part in the story. In addition to nicely developed characters, the story also features some great comedic dialogue. If the story has any weakness, it might be in the lack of direction the film seems to take. Despite great moments, the story feels somewhat disjointed, making it hard to invest in the overall arc.
The acting in this one is pretty great. Between Clooney, Turturro, and Nelson; the trio of escapees have great chemistry between them. The movie benefits even more from the supporting roles of John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and a number of other talented people. The real stars in this one are the three escaped convicts. Clooney does a wonderful job losing some of his sex appeal and bringing out his inner con-man for his role. John Turturro also does a great job bringing out his own version of a Southern convict. Finally, Tim Blake Nelson rounds out the trio with a wonderful performance as the half-witted Delmar. Alongside the rest of the cast, these actors did a great job in this one.
In addition to the successes with the story and the acting, the visuals are incredible. The use of color and exceptional camera work come together nicely, helping to create a unique version of the South. Thanks to these great aspects, the movie earned a second Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
One other successful aspect of this movie is the music. Throughout the film the music plays a key role in expressing the mood of the story. It also features a number of great performances from artists like Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright. Their contributions, and the work of a number of other musicians are wonderful aspects of the movie.
Overall, this is a good movie that came short of great for me due to the lack of a tighter story. That being said, this is still a really good movie and one that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys oddball comedies. For fans of the Coen brothers, this is a fun film that still has their unique touch in it. I would also suggest this one to fans of good music. Despite not a movie I would call a musical, it certainly has enough similar aspects to keep those fans happy as well. I give this one 4.2 out of 5 stars.
“But you ain’t bona fide!”
“I counted to three…” Great stuff!