The Coen brothers’ latest film, Hail, Caesar! opened in U.S. theaters on Feb. 5 with the typical critical reviews of a Coen film. With expectations high after the Coens’ writing of Steven Spielberg’s now-acclaimed Cold War-era thriller Bridge of Spies, Hail, Caesar! delivers a laugh-out-loud experience sure to entertain.
Set in the early 1950s in Los Angeles, the film follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a fixer-type and studio executive at the fictional Capitol Pictures as he juggles eccentric actors and directors like Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), twin sisters and rival columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton) and deals with the fallout from the kidnapping of the star of the studio’s biggest film, the boozy and philandering Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).
Overall, Hail, Caesar! is a solid laugh with dramatic and socio-economic-political undertones, however, the excruciatingly long exposition and lackluster character development leaves much to be desired as far as conflict is concerned. This easily-identifiable “Coen” film supplies a solid, but underdeveloped plot that seems abrupt and heavily cut-down.
The marginal utility, though, does not diminish throughout the movie, and any moviegoer would happily sit through another hour of this film to fill in the holes left by either last-minute script changes or scenes that may have been cut for time constraints.
Hail, Caesar! is quirky, hilarious, and a must-see for fans of the Coen brothers and the Golden Age of Hollywood, yet at the same time the film feels rushed and generally could have given the artful cinematic brother team an amazing opportunity to really show off their chops as writers and directors without becoming avant-garde or art house.
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Screenplay: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen