Reviewed May 21, 2012
Daniel Kirkham’s review:
Whenever I talk to people about my favorite movie quotes, I always point them to the Coen brothers' quasi-odyssey 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?', and with good reason. This film is a perfect example of wonderful, deadpan humor in screenwriting, truly the Coens at their best.
The story, which draws several parallels to the greek poet Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, revolves around three escaped prison inmates searching for a hidden treasure in the Dust Bowl of Mississippi during the Great Depression. The three hoodlums at the center of the plot are all quite different personality-wise: George Clooney stars as smooth-talking, quick-witted, opportunistic con man Ulysses Everett Mcgill; Tim Blake Nelson is all stupid grins as naive simpleton Delmar O'Donnell; and the fantastic John Turturro plays cynical hillbilly Pete Hogwallop. Throughout the film, Clooney's character (who describes himself as 'blessed with the gift of gab') dashes through several clever and silver-tongued monologues about nothing in particular, after which the other two will bounce back simple, immensely enjoyable one-liners. Seriously, the dialogue in this movie is fantastic, and there are so many great lines in each scene that it takes several repeat viewings to catch them all.
What else? The soundtrack to this movie is amazing, littered with bluegrass and country tunes from the time period. The cinematography is pure old classical American, and it looks beautifully dusty, having been digitally tampered with after filming to give it an old-fashioned look. The supporting characters are hilarious, with brilliant performances from Holly Hunter and John Goodman, just to name a few. The story, while not quite as dramatic or epic in scope as the Coens' old-West quest True Grit, certainly shares the same episodic, vaguely novelistic structure. Several scenes are included which, while not entirely necessary to the plot, are just plain fun or clever (think the Bear Man on a Horse scene from True Grit).
'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' is, in short, one of my all time favorites. It's hilarious, well acted, and (dare I use the term?) even a bit heartwarming toward the end. If you haven't seen this one in the rough decade since it was released, go watch it now. Or else you're a bad person.