RELEASE DATE: 19th February 2016
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 46min
GENRE: Comedy, Drama, Musical
STARRING: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich
DIRECTOR: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
WRITERS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Catherine Farrell, Eric Fellner
PRODUCTION BUDGET: $22mil
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.hailcaesar-film.com/ww/
The Coen Brothers deliver an absurd marvel
A day in the life of Hollywood studio executive Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). Eddie controls things for Capitol Pictures in 1950’s Hollywood. Everything from small things, like casting and hiring, to big things like covering up naughty photos, or a drinking binge, Eddie is the guy. During the course of one day Eddie needs to deal with a kidnapped star, religious discussions about a new film about the Christ, gossip columnists, a trashy, knocked up starlet and a communist conspiracy. All in a day’s work.
WHY WATCH IT
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Coen Brothers fan. I’ve enjoyed their work, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? No Country for Old Men, True Grit, but often I find it leaning a little too much towards the absurd for my liking. Hail, Caesar leans even more towards the absurd than pretty much anything they’ve done up to this point, but I loved it. It’s mad, and makes little sense, and is absurdly ridiculous, but somehow it just works. It brings together these crazy scenes and makes them wonderful.
Of course, a lot of the comedy and absurdity, wouldn’t work without the actors pulling them off, and there are a lot of them in this film. Brolin leads everyone else as pretty much the only serious one in the film. He is the anchor that the other actors hold onto and he does it really well. He’s charming, when he needs to be, and crazy, when he needs to be, and has a heart of gold. He does a great job with a complex character, reminding me somewhat of his character from Gangster Squad, in which he also shined.
He is joined on screen by a bunch of others, who are all great, but essentially have glorified cameos. Included in this category are George Clooney as a clueless Hollywood star who gets kidnapped by Communists, Scarlett Johansson as a white trash starlet, Alden Ehrenreich as a Western star who gets put in a drama, and Ralph Feinnes as the poor director trying to teach him how to actually act, Tilda Swinton as twin sisters, both gossip columnists and both after the same story, Channing Tatum as a song and dance man with a secret and Frances McDormand as an editor who almost asphyxiates on her scarf while showing a film. Each and every one really gets into their roles and plays them to the best of their abilities, but they’re on screen for such a short amount of time, which is a pity. The standouts in this bunch of greats are Ehrenreich, who came to my attention in Beautiful Creatures. He has this awkward Southern charm that makes him really appealing, especially in this film, and he gives a solid showing, and Tatum, who is funny and camp and completely wonderful as the song and dance man who is actually, spoiler, a Russian spy, albeit the funniest Russian spy ever. His dance sequence is wonderful and had me smiling the whole way through.
If you’re a fan of the Coen Brothers then you’re going to love this film. It is full of their special brand of quirky humour and it just works so well.
Jon Broeke (@jonbroeke)