O Brother, Where Art Thou?


(2000) ★★★★★

Sky Movies Select: Saturday 12 December, 4.00pm

George Clooney as cocksure convict Everett Ulysses McGill, escaping a 1930s Deep South chaingang with John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson, two dumb-luck hayseeds who make the clueless Clooney look smart. This trio of stooges surmounts all manner of obstacles on a quest for mythical Mississippi treasure in a fabulous bluegrass fable from the Coen brothers, embroidering their mock-epic yarn with dazzling musical-comedy setpieces. The brothers jokingly aver that their film is an adaptation of The Odyssey but the only Homer at large here is the spirit of Springfield’s Mr Simpson, a barely sentient being who bumbles triumphantly through life’s hurdle-strewn highway.

The movie’s real inspiration is asserted in the ridiculous title, a reference to Preston Sturges’ 1940s masterpiece Sullivan’s Travels: in that film, Joel McCrea played a pompous director who wanted to forsake simple comedy for serious social commentary, and his pet project was called O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Curiously, Simpsons creator Matt Groening has also usurped that title for an episode in which Homer met his long-lost brother Danny DeVito.

Great minds…) So, despite the sexy sirens, the Cyclops and the blind soothsayer, the Coens’ real intention is rib-tickling and they serve up a platter overflowing with good-natured humour. Clooney, sporting a Clark Gable moustache and smarming his hair with Dapper Dan pomade, remains endearingly optimistic even as he’s beaten up by burly Bible salesman John Goodman and banished from Woolworth: “I don’t recollect if it was all stores or that particular branch.” Michael Badalucco is eerily funny, too, as bank robber George Nelson, throwing infantile tantrums whenever anyone dares call him Baby-Face. The wonderful music – a collection of folk and blues that epitomises rural Americana – became a surprise hit when the soundtrack album was released. The Coen brothers wouldn’t hit these giddy heights again until 2007, when their spicy Tex-Mex thriller No Country for Old Men marked a serious return to form.

Certificate: 12
Duration: 103min

IMDB – O Brother, Where Art Thou?

TMDB – O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Rotten Tomatoes – O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Other Showings Date & Time
Sky Movies Select Friday, 18 December at 3:30PM
Sky Movies Select Saturday, 19 December at 12:45AM
Sky Movies Select Friday, 25 December at 1:00AM
Sky Movies Select Wednesday, 6 January at 6:00PM