The Coen Brothers have become established directors in this current day and age, having directed a string of widely loved movies such as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, True Grit and their cult classic The Big Lebowski.
O Brother, where art thou? (which in itself comes from the poem by Homer) carries all the elements that the Coen Bros are known for, yet it never quite comes together the way it does in their other movies.
The movie starts with a great montage showing us our main characters, the trio of escapees known by the names of Pete (John Turturro), Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and their leader Everett (George Clooney). They are easily kept apart by their trademark behaviour. Delmar is the dumb one, Pete’s the skeptic and Everett the smart leader. From the first moment onwards we follow them from their escape from the 1930’s prison camp all the way to the treasure that Everett has convinced the boys of finding together.
It should come as no surprise that this trio of actors deliver great performances. John Turturro, who is now mostly known under youngsters as the agent from the ‘Transformers’ trilogy, is great as the sceptic, emotionally unbalanced Pete and he serves as a good counterweight for the likes of Mr. Clooney, who once again steals the movie as Everett.
From his addiction to Dapper Dan hairgel to his unbelievably well written speech and manners, Everett is what keeps this movie going, Tim Blake Nelson is underused though in his part as the dumb Delmar.
He’s got a few funny scenes that makes you root for him, but all in all it’s just Tim looking goofy 90 percent of the time.
This being a Coen Bros film, you can expect lots of familiar faces, John Goodman pops by as a bible salesman, and Holly Hunter has a small, but plotwise pivotal, role as well.
It’s not easy then to point out what exactly doesn’t make this movie as great as other entries by the Coen Bros.
Personally, I found the story to be quite simple in its approach, and even though there’s lots of little things happening here and there, it doesn’t really help move the story forward that much.
The most fun I had with this was when George Clooney sang his song as the leader of the accidentally formed band ‘Soggy Bottom Boys’. Finding out it was Dan Tyminski who dubbed him afterwards, made that fun quickly go away though.
If you do decide to check it out, make sure that your expectations meet what’s being shown on screen.
You carry a torch for the Coen Bros? Then this will most likely suit your needs, but in any other case: beware.
The atmosphere, acting and setpieces are all definite bonuspoints to a movie that does tend to collapse under it’s lofty expectations.