Bottom Line: Full-blown bizarre, in both a good and a bad sense.
Directed by: Joel Coen
Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
Ridiculously bizarre crime-comedy-adventure with a story based (apparently) on Homer’s epic poem “Odyssey”. Here in the Great Depression-era South, we have Everett, Pete, and Delmar (played by George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson respectively), three convicts with distinct flaws in their own personalities. When Everett convinces Pete and Delmar of over a million dollars he has hidden, they all set out in search for grand wealth.
What’s relieving about O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? is the fact that it relies on its over-the-top bizarreness to stimulate an audience with laughter. This is set in the 1930s, mind you, and the characters are far enough off the wall to drive US insane with laughter. One character, George (“not Babyface!”) Nelson, has both a violent side and a psychotic side. We see them meld into one personality in scenes such as the one in which he tips his head out of the roof of a car, begins cackling and recklessly firing an automatic weapon.
What’s excruciating about this film is that the film goes far enough on a bizarre tangent that it often relies singularly on being an offbeat, wacky comedy, rather than building up a noticeable plot. That is to say, half the time, such as during the scene in which our trio disguises themselves as members of the Ku Klux Klan, we REALLY don’t know what on Earth is going on. (And in in the most honest sense, we’d rather be left in lacking of that knowledge.)
If O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? had been a bit more madcap, there wouldn’t be much hope for such a film. Though often hysterically funny, it lacks the magnificently strong performance delivered typically by George Clooney. In short, a satisfying letdown.