I love musicals. What can I say? I am a surrealist as an artist, and so I am dedicated to combining the disjointed and bizarre to make something that makes you laugh, or makes you cry, or makes you go, “Huh? I wonder why?” So when, in the middle of a sometimes serious but mostly comic story of escaped convicts on the lam in the Great Depression Era South, people suddenly burst into song… I love it!
And this movie is filled with creative stuff and biting social satire about religion, politics, crime and punishment, love and sex, desire and disappointment, and, most of all, the need to escape from it all if only for a moment to share a good, old-fashioned song.
The main character is Ulysses Everett McGill (played by George Clooney), so naturally the sirens overpower him and turn one of his crew into a frog. This is because this story is based on the Odyssey by Homer. Only the Trojan War is replaced by a chain gang singing spirituals as they break rocks, the cyclops is a Bible salesman and Ku Klux Klan member with a patch over one eye, and when Ulysses returns to Ithica, he defeats his wife’s suitors with a song. How can you not love a story as creative as that?
The whole movie is shot in color-corrected sepia tones to give it an old-photograph, old-timey feel. John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson are masterful in the role of McGill’s two idiot hayseed friends.
Again, I remind you, as a completely uncritical critic, I have no intention of trying to tell you what is wrong with this movie. I loved it. I will watch it again. I am writing this review only because I feel moved to tell you how much I loved it and why. So if you don’t approve of that, well, don’t shoot me. Put me on a chain gang and give me a chance to sing.