It opens with a chain gang, in a field in the middle of somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Hey!…welcome to the Corn Belt in 1930's America. The colours and photography are instantly stunning… and then we see our heroes making their escape….
For this film the Coen Brothers have gone into the classic road movie, a territory beautifully explored in the films of Jim Jarmusch, and made it their own. The story is loosely based upon Homer's Odyssey, and George Clooney's hero is, indeed, our Ulysses….Ulysses P.McGill. Clooney on fine form as a verbose intellectual dreamer…. Take your mum or grandma to see him, 'cause he looks just like Clark Gable, every inch the classic film star… John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson are both fantastic as his dim partners in crime, and John Goodman appears in the same kind of twisted vein as he did in Barton Fink, although even more unhinged. There is a mythical side to the plot, like The Odyssey, which lends the film a David Lynch angle, too…and all the way through the film leads you on the journey without glitches, the photography uniformly wonderful, the dialogue brilliant and off-beat. As with The Odyssey, there is a lot of comment on the local politics our hero returns to find, but transposed to depression-era USA, we have a black blues man who's supposedly sold his soul to the devil to make him play the best guitar, referring to the legendary Robert Johnson, and a devil in the form of a sinister sheriff… There's a chaos here, a beautiful madcap chaos, and along with everything in this film, it's execution is flawless.
I could go on and on….. For more reasons than I can mention, this film is essential viewing, and among my favourite films this year. You really MUST!
10Chris Nettleton's Score