The Coen Brothers make their latest directorial debut with Hail, Casear! A film set in the glitzy by gone era of the golden age of cinema, focused on Hollywood Fixer played by Josh Brolin who manages various film productions, namely a big budget historical drama called ‘Hail, Caesar!’ which gets derailed when its star actor (George Clooney) disappears. The film stars Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill.
Hail, Caesar! is…. an interesting film, well I wish it was more interesting to be honest, curious is probably more of an appropriate word to use, the set up is great, from the accents, costumes and seeing how the Coens envisioned old Hollywood film sets and actors but there’s something pretty fundamental missing here – a good, compelling story, something a bit out of character for the Coens. The cast is great with some genuine A-listers here with the likes of Clooney, Johansson, Tatum and Brolin but apart from Clooney, disappointingly the rest play peripheral characters not really important to the main story and yeah the acting itself is great but you have to wonder what more could have been done with such good talent. There’s a potentially far better film with the premise here, a noir crime drama perhaps, but I can see that the Coens went for something different, something deliberately dense with some subtext and it turned out the way it has for better or for worse.
One key Coen brother motif that again featuers is their signature dialogue with some memorable scenes, simply having characters discuss ideas, themes or specific things that exist in the context of the film is always one of the best things about watching a Coen brothers film and there are one or two scenes in particular that quite funny, Eddie Manix discussing the portrayal of Chris on screen and the scene with Ralph Fiennes as director Laurence Laurentz and Alden Ehenreichs’ Hobie Doyle. And on another positive note, the musical numbers are pretty great, though they’re inconsequential and seemingly random in the context of the films plot, again something you could easily criticise.
The big flaw with the film, is that it’s a bit too meandering and aimless (sort of like any Coen brothers film you might say) but to quite an extreme this time around, the plot could have gone off in some interesting directions but never ties up any plot threads to a satisfying degree and the main plot point sort of goes nowhere and ultimately I’m just not quite sure what the film was going for. For a drama, it has its high points but is far from compelling, it has some pretty funny moments but they’re few and far between and nowhere near enough to constitute this being a good comedy, which is what Hail, Caesar! seems to have been marketed as. It’s a clearly deeper film than it was marketed as being and on surface level but I doubt many people who have seen it will care enough to really give it a second thought, it feels like a bit of a misstep for the usually high quality Coens but at least it won’t be the worst film this year so, fair enough I guess.
. Plot is far too meandering, may feel pointless to you
. Has a strong but wasted cast
. Has some nice costume design, sets, nice period drama feel