O Brother, Where Art Thou? ★★★★

With the exception of Inside Llewyn Davis, this was the only Coen Brothers film I'd never seen. Obviously over the years I've caught bits and pieces on tv and of course that soundtrack has had a fair amount of play on my I-pod, but this was the first time I'd sat down to watch the entire thing. I've enjoyed everything the Coen's have done apart from Blood Simple for some reason (don't ask why, I can't really explain it) so by the time you throw two of my favorite actors in the shape of John Turturro and George Clooney into the mix then you have the makings of another classic.
I can't say I'm familiar with Homer's Odyssey so the modern comparisons are lost on me I'm afraid. What we get here is a journey of discovery for all involved featuring a host of crazy characters that only the minds of Joel and Ethan Coen could come up with. There has always been a surreal feel to a lot of the Coen's work. They write with a quirkiness that sets them apart from most of the other directors out there. They mix their genres up well and have toyed with both Westerns and Crime films, but their ability to give us darkly comic stories full of interesting characters remains their stock in trade.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? centers on three friends during the Great Depression who have escaped from a chain-gang. On the run, the three bicker relentlessly and go from one disaster to another. Redemption, faith, loyalty, and friendship are all examined in a slue of funny scenarios played out for laughs. The usual outlandish capers ensue and with so many diverse and interesting cameos from the likes of Charles Durning and a frightening turn from the irrepressible John Goodman, this fairly hurtles along with one darkly comic encounter after another. The script as you would expect is as zingy as ever and with Clooney playing down his heartthrob persona to play a bit of a loon, there are nutters galore in a film with many memorable scenes. I'd hasten to add though that as well as Clooney, Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson perform, they take second place to a soundtrack that hooks you from the very start. It's unbelievably catchy regardless of your musical tastes and the Soggy Bottom Boys's "Man Of Constant Sorrow" was a crossover hit all over the States and beyond. The Coen's still have a near perfect record for me and this fits somewhere between great and classic.