Ladykillers: The Coen Brothers’ Biggest Minor Movie?

Accustomed to praise, Joel and Ethan Coen face the Ladykillers to the dismay of the public and critics. This comedy has a very sad fate, which is not without merit.

While the characters in their films are regularly unlucky, here they, in turn, fall prey to the same misfortune. With their eleventh feature film, Joel and Ethan Coen seem to confirm, at least on paper, their dissatisfaction with more personal projects.

After the relatively warm reception reserved for their previous film, Universal’s Intolerable Cruelty, they once again responded favorably to the commission offer, this time led by a big-eared firm aptly named the Walt Disney Company. But that’s not all, here they’ve also embarked on their first remake, a modernized version of Alexander Mackendrick’s The Lady Killers, the 1955 British film classic. How can we hope to impose our style in the hands of the studios and above all compete with one of the gems of crime comedy?

Introduced in an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, The Ladykillers was not very convincing to professionals and was not a movie theater oven, even if the revenues generated on American soil far exceeded the original costs (39 million in the US). office for a 35 million budget) can rightfully be considered a failure. Whatever the case, the Coen brothers feel no obligation to repeat their past successes starring Fargo and The Big Lebowski, or to achieve a new milestone with each film.

Out of this freedom, dare we say, ease, emerge the Ladykillers, who, under the guise of pure relaxation, hide some hidden treasures that it would be a pity to ignore.

Hostilities may begin


The first and most important change is that the remake moves the action of the original work to the heart of modern Louisiana, and not to London in the 1950s. affection for the American South has always been central to their films, with a few exceptions. Doesn’t it distort the essence of the story? Not completely.

Here again is the story of an elderly lady, a widow, who rents out one of her rooms to a mysterious stranger, an erudite professor with refined manners. The latter informs his landlady that he is part of a musical ensemble and is still looking for a place to rehearse with his fellow musicians. A bit of a music lover, the old lady agrees to take the rest of the troupe under her roof. Under the pretense of being close to “music composed to the glory of God,” the professor and his assistants are actually pursuing a much less spiritual plan: to pull off a heist worthy of the greatest heists in history.


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