The Coen brothers revisit Homer in their own way, against a background of great depression, with George Clooney in a cuminated Ulysses at the Clark Gable.
“Adapted from the Odyssey”, proudly proclaim the Coen brothers, authors of the scenario of O’Brother, from the credits. Poor Homer is called to the rescue here, not to provide the frame of a fun transposition of the tribulations of Ulysses, but to serve as a lure, to confuse the spectators, to deviate the intrigue.
Of course, the main character is called Ulysses. Ulysses Everett McGill, exactly. He has the head that the American caricaturists of the 1930s gave Clark Gable: the Gomina, the conquering mustache, an eyebrow in a circumflex accent, he is interpreted by George Clooney. But the cunning Ulysses, the sage to whom the kings of Greece asked for advice, was transformed into a sufficient boy, much less intelligent than he believes. Like to be stripped by the cyclops, swindle by Corcé, drown by the sirens.
Then, this Ulysses is not a sailor, but Bagnard, detained at Parchman Farm, from which he escapes, at the start of the film, chained in Pete (John Turturro) and in Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson). The trio launches, with a very relative success, in a race against the clock: it must arrive at the Ulysses farm within three days, in order to recover the boot of a heist before the waters of A dam submerging the house.
myths and gags
Their Odyssey of the Great Depression is punctuated by meetings. They meet a bluesman at a crossroads that has just sells his soul to the devil to play the guitar better, a blind radio host who makes them record a traditional song, a Borgne Bible seller (John Goodman), an outgoing governor and his Reforming competitor, the local chapter of Ku Klux Klan, and M me mcgill (Holly Hunter).
We can have fun deciphering these episodes, identifying allusions, embezzlement of meaning. At random from the trio tribulations, we discover a little bit of Elvis Presley (native of Tupelo, Mississippi), whose prefiguration of which is seen, and a ceremony of the Ku Klux Klan that it looks like the choreographed by Busby Berkeley. The Coen brothers are perverse people, who have taken care of their historical reconstruction as much as energy to dynamite it. We see the gangster Baby Face Nelson (Michael Badalucco) pass, who actually exercised his talents at the same time, but much further north.
It is ultimately to be tired for a disappointing result to want to find the deep meaning of this tangle of historical facts and false allusions, myths torn from their natural environment and from gags out of the cartoons from the 1930s . We must rather see the result of a raid organized by great children in the attic of American myths. They reported what they liked, because it was funny, pretty or original.