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  • James Rutherford

'O Brother Where Art Thou?': A Madcap Comedy About 3 Escaped Convicts in Search of Hidden Treasure


Movie poster for O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) is a madcap period comedy starring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as Everett, Pete and Delmar, three escaped convicts on the run in 1930's-era Mississippi. The trio breaks free from a rural chain gang and sets out across the southern Bible Belt in search of treasure Everett claims to have buried years earlier.


Crafted as a loose adaptation of Homer's Greek poem The Odyssey, the storyline follows along as the threesome encounters a variety of eccentric characters drawn from Homer's epic, including the Blind Seer (Demodocus), the Sirens and Cyclops. They pick up a young black musician named Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King), who claims to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar skills—the quartet furtively visiting a radio broadcast tower to record a song under the moniker "The Soggy Bottom Boys". As their single quickly becomes a hit on the airwaves, they continue to trudge onward into increasingly absurdist territory—Everett's plan ultimately revealed to be a half-baked bid to win back former wife Penny (Holly Hunter) and their three daughters.


Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, No Country For Old Men), O Brother Where Art Thou? is a winsome and enjoyable escapade highlighted by music producer T-Bone Burnett's incorporation of bluegrass, blues, country and gospel music into the storyline. Clooney, Turturro and Nelson enliven the proceedings with their offbeat performances, supported by a broad ensemble of supporting actors including John Goodman, Charles Durning and Michael Badalucco. Brandishing The Coen Brothers' trademark brand of quirk and idiosyncrasy, it's a delightfully boisterous journey of human adversity.

 

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