“O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?”
BREF RAPPEL: “Trust in the name of the Cohens.”
Who else could take Homer’s Odyssey, transpose it into smacky, pun-filled jaunt through the swampy south of the 1920’s and make it work? The characters are actually so over the top, they become just stomach-grabbing funny. Humor aside, the film is sprinkled with some sobering moments to remind us how far civilization hasn’t really progressed since Homer’s days.
George Clooney, John Tuturro, and Tim Blake Nelson are individually hilarious. As the Soggy Bottom Boys, they sing up the screen and display another facet of their great talent. Credit Joel Cohen for letting the reins loose and giving them a chance to show off.
The photography was exceptional, capturing the heat of a Mississippi drought in blanched exposures and dripping warm tones. Typical of Cohen dialog, at times you couldn’t understand the local lingo, but it never really matters, because the intent is always evident. And casting a few unadorned locals adds the perfect pieces that complete the scenes – who needs all their teeth anyway?
In a nutcase, “O Brother…” is best pitched as – Wandering Cow meets Speeding Model A. Oui, Cyclops, Sirens and Blind Soothsayers-in-disguise abound, but my favorite credit was for Ed Snodderly as The Village Idiot.
Bottom Line – Lord knows every modern village should not only have, but desperately needs a Village Idiot.