O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

OBrother

Written by Ethan and Joel; directed by Joel; produced by Ethan

Three convicts – Ulysses Everett McGill, Delmar O’Donnell and Pete Hogwallop – escape a 1930s chain gang and set out to recover some buried treasure. Along the way, they inadvertently become singing sensations…

Seen before? Yes, on 25 October 2000 at a cinema in Derby with my then-housemate Hilary and some university mates.

Best performance: George Clooney’s having an absolute blast playing pomade-obsessed Ulysses. Batman notwithstanding, he’s fantastic every time I see him – From Dusk Till Dawn is still one of my favourite films. He’s a movie star not afraid to take character roles.

Coen regulars (running total of appearances): Pete is played by John Turturro (4) is Pete, while Holly Hunter (3) plays Ulysses’s wife. Clooney (1) will be back. John Goodman (5) shows up as a one-eyed Bible salesman, Stephen Root (1) as the blind guy who runs the radio station, and Charles Durning (2) as Governor Menelaus “Pappy” O’Daniel (2).

Best bit: The sirens. Blimey.

Review: Loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey (no, I’ve not read it either), this is a madcap comedy with lots of pleasingly bizarre twists. It’s very episodic, so we get a succession of new characters/incidents – rednecks, gangsters, politicians, musicians, the Ku Klux Klan – all entertaining and fun in their own right. It’s also pretty much a musical in disguise and looks beautiful: daytime scenes are dusty, sunkissed, almost sepia, with lots of oranges, browns and mushroom greys. Really enjoyable stuff. I loved seeing it again.

Nine tins of Dapper Dan out of 10.

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