The Austin Chronicle

The Great Escape

Chain Gangs! Cast Aways! Kung Fu! Chocolate! ... It's Time for the Holiday Film Previews

By Marc Savlov, November 24, 2000, Screens

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

D: Joel Coen; with John Turturro, George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson.

Homer's The Odyssey updated to a Depression-era Preston Sturges comedy-spectacle? Oh, those wacky Coen boys -- what will they think of next? Okay, so 1998's The Big Lebowski was a bit of a mess (nihilists? marmots? huh?), and Fargo left you confused over whether to be depressed or joyous for a month after you saw it. With O Brother, Joel and Ethan Coen return to their slyly subversive slapstick roots and then some. Clooney, Turturro, and Nelson play convicts who are on the lam from a chain gang and encounter a variety of Homerian ne'er-do-wells -- John Goodman's one-eyed bible salesman, Charles Durning's small-town politico -- while fleeing from the man. A stunning bluegrass soundtrack and cameos from the likes of Holly Hunter and NewsRadio's Stephen Root enliven what's almost sure to be the season's oddest, most memorable film. (Jan. 12)

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