O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Review Date: November 30, 2000
Director: Joel Coen
Writer: Joel and Ethan Coen
Producers: Ethan Coen
George Clooney as Everett Ulysses McGill
John Turturro as Pete Hogwallop
Tim Blake Nelson as Delmar O'Donnel
Set in the South during the 1930s, three men have just escaped a chain gang in order to retrieve the treasure which one of them buried before his capture. On the way to their final destination, the bumbling threesome run across various colorful characters including a fast-talking one-eyed bible salesman, a black man who just sold his soul to the devil in return for musical talent, a trio of sexy sirens, the KKK and many other quirky members of the Deep South personnel.
Another original piece set forth by the Coen bros, who continue to charm us with their unique knack for poetic dialogue, quirky characters, musical melodies and eerily authentic looks at the days of old. And despite this film being a little slow at times, a little too long for its own good and a little weak in the "romance" end of the story, it still managed to keep me entertained for most its outing with plenty of peppered one-liners, a great chemistry between the three leads, catchy tunes and a rock-solid performance by George Clooney. Now when the heck did he suddenly become a movie star and an actor?!? Wow. Here Clooney shines as the leader of this pack of con men, with a twangy accent in tow, a great delivery of his overly literate dialogue and a hilarious running gag about his hair. I just could not take my eyes off this guy when he was on the screen. A great turn for Mr. Clooney (and a nice Clark Gable-ish 'stache to boot). The other two scoundrels also follow suit with top-notch performances of their own offbeat personalities as do the rest of the cast, with plenty of fun and engaging moments of their own. There was however at least one character for whom I didn't care much. And seeing as the film did run a little too long, I think it would have been a tighter flick with a little snip here and there.
But ultimately, much like any other Coen film, you either like it or you don't. I did and despite many of its characters obviously having graduated from the RAISING ARIZONA (10/10) school of highly tuned dialogue (just not as flat-out funny), I got into it and would recommend it to anyone looking for something different. This film will doubtfully be a commercial hit because it simply doesn't have much to say and doesn't entertain on a "general audience" type of level. Its story isn't a grand one and its over-emphasis on the use of musical ditties is unlikely to appeal to the masses, but the film certainly will not disappoint Coen fans and/or anyone looking for a little variety in their cinematic diet. I for one enjoyed the film on the whole, thought it could've used a little more structure and one or two less characters, but appreciated its overall creative outlook. I also can't seem to get that darn hit song from the movie out of my head, so I guess that's always a good sign. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're the Coen bros and they're here to stay.
(c) 2013 Berge Garabedian