The Coen brothers return with an all star cast to take audiences on a whistle-stop tour of the golden age of cinema.
Hail, Caesar! Follows Eddie Mannix, a Fixer for a Hollywood studio as he deals with a whole heap of problems, the biggest being his largest star, who’s been kidnapped. Along the way he finds himself picking up the pieces of a whole array of actors, directors, producers and gossip writers each who add to the ever growing list of conundrums that Eddie is responsible for fixing.
The cast are utterly magnetic, Josh Brolin is fantastic as the steadfast, reliable but troubled protagonist. Clooney is equally charismatic and Johansson is perfectly entertaining as a (not so crystal clean) Hollywood starlet. But Of all the performances on show Channing Tatum is the one that stands out the most, to give any more detail would be to ruin his excellent appearances but, suffice to say, he steals the handful of scenes he’s in.
The cinematography on show is beautiful, by jumping from set to set the Coen brothers are able to establish a great variety of locations, all which feel glamorous and whimsical whilst the real world of the 50’s, outside the movie studio, feels guanine and authentic. This visual dichotomy allows the film to be constantly invigorating without straying into the unbelievable.
The problem here is that the main story of the film is, when all is said and done, quite unsatisfying. The narrative manages to be both thin on the ground and overly complicated at the same time. It’s used more as a framing device for the various characters and sets, which leads to the main narrative becoming a twisty, disconnected maze of threads that lead to an underwhelming conclusion.
This also speaks to an issue with the film’s marketting. Hail, Caesar has been advertising itself in full on ‘star power’ mode with George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin and Jonah Hill all being poster faces for the film. The problem here is that Brolin is the only role in the movie with any real substance. With the other stars being very much supporting roles, and Hill’s part is so small it could almost be a cameo. If you’re going in for a charming Coen brothers comedy, you’re in luck. If, however, you’re hoping for a Clooney filled comedy mystery, you’ll almost certainly be left unsatisfied.
There are times where Hail, Caesar! feels more like a 1950’s Coen brothers sketch show than a narrative driven movie as the main story falls so flat. Luckily it’s side plots, supporting characters, convincing world and attention to detail make it a pleasure to watch, that’s brilliantly acted and extremely witty. It oozes charisma and fun, though it falls a little short of being the Coen brother’s next home run.
Overall, on a 100 point scale, I would score Hail, Caesar!: 7.4