The Coens’ loose adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey is their wacky comedy musical and the first of a series of films starring George Clooney. It stars Clooney as an escaping convict named Everett. His two chain-gang friends are Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson). The film more or less follows these three characters as they escape on a quest to find the treasure Everett had buried before going to prison. The story, however, is much more about everything that happens on the journey.
Baptisms and seductive sirens, weddings and lynchings, toads and fires, criminals and politicians, guitar players and devils, Bible salesman and beatings, etc.
The main driving comedic force in the film though is Everett. You see, Everett is a Dapper Dan man, and there isn’t that much else to say about him. He uses big words to quickly assert himself as the leader of their group even though it’s pretty obvious to the audience that he seldom knows the meanings of the word he uses. The best use of his character comes much later in the film when the character is suddenly given several more layers of depth. He kneels down in front of his hangman and in plain words relinquishes the permeating cynicism defeating him by praying to God for a miracle so that he can once again see his daughters (he later accounts for the miracle that does happen in a practical and somewhat cynical explanation but that’s the Coens).
In essence the beauty of this film is in the dreamlike quality and the music. The music is always what I most remember.
If not one of their most thought-provoking and intellectually challenging films, “O Brother Where Art Thou?” is one the Coens’ most entertaining and fun films.