O Brother Where Art Thou is a ringing musical …


… brimming with folk bravura and resonant wit. The  cinematic vision is as grand as Sydney Pollack‘s  in “Out of Africa“, and the cliches in it work because the Coen Brothers embrace them with camp-devious abandon. There is a certain light-heartedness that redeems everything it touches.  Any “Dutch attempt and German sublimity” would have sunk this movie like a rock because it is not cut from that kind of mettle.

George Clooney as Ulysses Everett McGill is outstanding and John Turturo never fails to deliver. Clooney owes the Coen Brothers for the  role of a lifetime.  Two academy award nominations for best screenplay and cinematography gives more than a nod to that notion. It never hurts that the Coen brothers trot out the talents of comedic stalwarts like John Goodman. He delivers with  the ease of a seasoned hand. And like all  good movies “Brother Where Art Thou?” has an ace up its sleeve: The music.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the music and  musicality behind it trumps anything outside of the  Smithsonian Folkways.  The music from the ol’ time   spiritual “Going down to the river to pray” to the blue grass anthem “Man of Constant Sorrows”  is as gritty as  river sand full of gold nuggets.

George Clooney(left) as Ulysses Everett McGill: The role of a lifetime, perfectly highlighted by John Turturo(right) as Pete.

George Clooney(left) as Ulysses Everett McGill: The role of a lifetime, perfectly offset by John Turturo(right) as Pete and Tim Blake Nelson as the dithering side-kick.

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