Release date: 4th March 2016/Watch the trailer here
Hail, Caesar! is the latest film written and directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, following 2013’s phenomenal Inside Llewyn Davis. The Coens set their own bar incredibly high, but to say that Hail, Caesar! isn’t as good as Inside Llewyn Davis (and truthfully, it isn’t) is really an invalid comparison to make, because the Coen connection is where the similarities between the two films begin and end.
Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix in Hail, Caesar!, a Hollywood fixer for the fictional studio Capitol Pictures, who is responsible for keeping its stars in line. The film follows a day in his hectic life, centring around the kidnapping of George Clooney’s actor – and the star of the studio’s Biblical epic, ‘Hail, Caesar! A Tale Of The Christ’ – Baird Whitlock. It would, however, be inaccurate to say that George Clooney is the film’s main player; this is Brolin’s film – and he carries such a chaotic film with a quiet, confident calm – while the disappearance of Baird Whitlock is just one storyline interspersed with many.
There is also Scarlett Johansson’s DeeAnna Moran, a starlet whose wholesome image is at risk of being ruined by a pregnancy with no father; Ralph Fiennes’ British director Laurence Laurentz, who worries for his respected name following the casting of ‘dust actor’ Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) as the leading man in his drama, ‘Merrily We Dance’; and Tilda Swinton’s twin reporter sisters, Thora and Thessaly Thacker, locked in a sibling rivalry and both clamouring for an interview with the absent Baird Whitlock.
So many characters and storylines is perhaps the downfall of Hail, Caesar! It is left lacking any real, substantial plot, but it is also beautiful to look at and incredibly, hilariously wacky – style over substance, yes, but good fun and a glamorous look at Hollywood’s Golden Age, too.
Hail, Caesar! also features some fantastic set pieces – most notably, an elaborate song and tap dance number starring Channing Tatum’s Burt Gurney, and some hilariously funny gags – the ‘would that it were so simple’ scene starring Fiennes and Ehrenreich had the whole cinema in stitches. Ehrenreich is the most entertaining thing about the entire film: a relative newcomer cast cleverly in the role of a relative newcomer, he is charmingly hilarious, eliciting the majority of the film’s laughs.
I think that Hail, Caesar!‘s detractors are looking for too much from this film. It may not be breaking new ground for the Coens, but if you take it for what it is – an eccentric and occasionally surreal comedy that bounces from one flashy set piece to the next – then there’s much to be enjoyed here.