This week on Movies Worth Rewatching we’re talking about Joel and Ethan Coen’s retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000, Studio Canal).
Disclaimer: Joel and Ethan Coen are, without a doubt, my favorite filmmakers of all time. There’s just something to their brand of storytelling that I connect with in a big way. Honestly, I’ve had to put some effort into not talking about them sooner (in an effort to show variety). So, fair warning, I’m certain they’re going to come up several more times in this column. BUT FOR NOW, let’s talk O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
I remember the winter 2000 release of this film; even though, the pretentious college freshman with a focus on Clinical Psychology version of me that was walking the earth back then didn’t go to see it in theaters (lame). All my friends who were cooler and smarter than me did, and like most they bought the equally awesome soundtrack to go with it. I was first introduced to O Brother, Where Art Thou? through cable TV (I think HBO gets the credit). Instantly the language of the film pulled me in, something the Coen brothers are known for. The prophetic undertones, the stellar performances, THE OLD TIMEY MUSIC, I was hooked. Subsequently, I purchased the DVD and the soundtrack and both have been on a near-monthly-repeat cycle with me ever since (true story).
So how does it hold up in 2012?
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is just as enjoyable today (on my 400th viewing) as it was when I first saw it over ten years ago, if not more so. Joel and Ethan Coen’s snappy dialogue sings through absolutely amazing performances from a top notch cast, with special mention to Tim Blake Nelson’s portrayal of the lovable idiot, Delmar. The story ebbs and flows in and out of it’s numerous character archs effortlessly, all without confusing the viewer. Roger Deakins (the director of Photography and winner of the Golden Globe that year for his work on the film) does some of the best work of his career, turning what could have been a ho-hum period piece into a visual masterpiece. This film is absolutely beautiful to see and to hear!
During it’s theatrical release, O Brother, Where Art Though? managed to bring home more than three times it’s production budget, despite me being too busy to see it in theaters, and earned positive reviews from critics and fans alike. If you were smart enough to see it then, do yourself a favor and watch it again. This film only gets better with each viewing. Just be warned, it’s hard to NOT buy the soundtrack after watching this movie again.
If this is the first you’ve heard of O Brother, Where Art Thou? or Joel and Ethan Coen, I highly recommend you check them out. The film is available on DVD/Blu-ray and is well worth your time and money.
by Mel Dale