Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney) is a silver-tongued petty criminal eager to make his escape from the chain gang in Mississippi, serving a term of hard labour. Still shackled together, McGill and fellow convicts, the simple Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and maladjusted Pete (John Turturro), he makes a dash for freedom and embark on a mission to recover a fortune in buried treasure, but the trio get entangled in a series of unexpected and sometimes bizarre adventures along the way, with lawman Cooley (Daniel Von Bargden) in pursuit.

4
An odyssey full of surprises

It's 1937, and three convicts escape from a southern chain gang. Ulysses (George Clooney) is a vain, fast talking philosopher who models himself after Clark Gable; Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) are his not so bright offsiders. Ulysses claims to know where a stash of money is hidden, and the ungainly trio set off in search of fortune as well as freedom, along the way encountering a clutch of colorful characters, including a bank robber, a musician, a one-eyed bible salesman (John Goodman), and an old-time politician (Charles Durning). In fact, their odyssey is full of surprises.

The Coen Brothers delightful new film is derived from The Odyssey but its title is a cinematic reference – it's the name of the film pitched by comedy director John Sullivan, Joel McCrea, to a couple of unenthusiastic studio heads in Preston Sturges' famous comedy, Sullivan's Travels. O' Brother Where Art Thou? isn't consistently hilarious, but it's so original, so well acted by all concerned, and so inventive – a Ku Klux Klan rally makes for an impressive set-piece – and so beautifully made that it's a constant delight. The three leads give wonderful performances – but everyone's good, including Holly Hunter as Ulysses' long-lost wife. And Roger Deakins' widescreen photography, with its unusual colour pallette, is a constant joy.

 

Watch 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

Wednesday 22 December, 9:35pm on SBS World Movies / NOTE: No catch-up at SBS On Demand

M
USA, 2000
Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Action
Language: English
Director: Joel Coen
Starring: John Turturro, Holly Hunter, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, George Clooney

RELATED
How George Clooney's 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' accent was a family affair
George Clooney has revealed he turned to his uncle from Kentucky for help getting into character for 'O Brother, Where Art Thou'.
MORE AT SBS:
Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir’s ‘Wajib’ is a charming and politically sharp family drama
Take a trip through little seen Nazareth in this arthouse gem, now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Robert Redford is armed with charm in ‘The Old Man and the Gun’
Robert Redford’s (possibly) final film is a touching, thoroughly entertaining salute to getting old disgracefully.
Tis the season to celebrate Italian cinema
This month, we are celebrating the best of Italy on the big screen.
Work up a cinematic sweat with a sizzling Summer of Discovery on SBS World Movies
See the Summer of Discovery on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 8.30pm on SBS World Movies, from 17 December.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s films show the joy of family bonding
Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda depicts the joy and love that bonds families together.
Revel in the versatile charm of Sam Neill
These five films showcase the many faces of the talented New Zealand actor.
Movies Leaving SBS On Demand: December 2021
Don't miss your chance to watch these standout feature films leaving SBS On Demand throughout December 2021.