The transposition of Greek myth onto Southern screwball musical fable works surprisingly well, resulting in some of the most inventive & genuinely surreal sequences of the Coen's career. While the once novel use of digital grading to manipulate the colour gives the film a primitive, almost hand-drawn quality, the political subtext has matured into something remarkably timely & even relevant from today's perspective.
A film title that alludes to anything Preston Sturges-related is halfway home to winning me over. I have to admit to never having been a George Clooney fan, and he does get a bit annoying at times, but on the whole remains humorous throughout. His compatriots in the trek are even more entertaining, as Turturro (a longtime Coens favorite) is amazing, as is Nelson. The Depression-era fairy tale is just too much fun
For a pair of filmmakers whose work often fluctuates, this is one of their most perfect and undeniably successful films. The entire cast is unbelievably good (the best secondary character being the blind man at the radio station). The cinematography is fantastic (although a little too digital in its colouring) and the pace is great. The soundtrack is the shining moment, though. A beautifully mythic comedy.
***1/2. Good comedy, good actors, good screenplay. Way better than THE BIG LEBOWSKY, the precedent film of the Coen brothers. While TBL was mainly intended to an American audience, O BROTHER, inspired by Homer, one of the fathers of western literature, handles themes universally understandable. As the blind poet used to say: "If someone in the future wants to adapt The Odyssey, let it be in the American Deep South".
One of my favourite film by the Coens. Besides an excellent use of music I especially like the carefully crafted dramaturgical arch starting with the convicts chained together and ending with the daughters tied in line with a rope and leading through the stations of Homer's "Odyssee". Using digital coloring is a perfect means to underline the aesthetic of the film by giving it the appearance of historic postcards.