The Coen Brothers are back with a satirical take on 1950s Hollywood.
An extremely busy production studio owner juggles control over several movie productions that struggle under misfortunes. From an actress losing a legal battle over her child, or an acclaimed drama director being given a lead star better suited for Westerns, to nosy journalists and the startling news that a headline star has been abducted!
Hail, Caesar! has quite the cast behind it, from leads to supporting acts the Coens have not restrained themselves. Josh Brolin heads a cast including George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Chaning Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Jonah Hill and they are all exceptional in their bit parts.
If you are going into Hail, Caesar! with expectations that this is some sort of Ocean’s 11 type of heist/rescue mission about George Clooney, you would be dead wrong. The Coen Brothers have created a film that lacks a strong cohesive narrative and it operates almost more like a satirical sketch show; a series of mini stories that speak volumes about the Hollywood system in the 1950s. You will be lost very quickly if you try to tie everything together; it is best that you admire the performances and remember which characters are involved when. There aren’t any actual resolutions to characters, the stories feel more like “slice of life” stories.
Of course in classic Coen style, they will just throw a curve-ball at you every once and a while. Like the film’s surprising dive into battling capitalism and communism!
What can be said for certainty though is, Hail, Caesar! is a very good looking film. Sets are often lavish, colours pop and are used with great care to make compositions that are easy on the eye. All with a great 1950s aesthetic of course.
As a drama comedy, I have to say though I did feel a little out in the cold at times; with no idea what was happening or exactly why. The Coen’s obviously have a admiration for the crazy behind the scenes of Hollywood, and the absurdity that occurs behind the curtain. One particular “sketch” I enjoyed was actually focused on the young Alden Ehrenreich (Stoker) who plays a typecast Western cowboy actor who is forced into a drama piece directed by a tight lipped director played by Ralph Fiennes (Spectre). It was great fun!
It is a little hit or miss, but if you go into it not expecting anything narratively cohesive or integral, and just enjoy it as a poke in the ribs to Hollywood, you’ll get something from it. I enjoyed the performances and the visual style and colour involved.