The Coen Brothers return with plenty of company to bring the Golden Age of Hollywood to the 21st century, with their inimitable wit and the polished composition of cinematographer Roger Deakins.
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is responsible for fixing all the problems of the Capitol Studios “family”, and the film follows him as he is pulled from one crisis to another. The face of Capitol Studios, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), has been kidnapped by a cell of former scriptwriters who identify as communists but are really just looking for ransom for their “equal share”. Mannix has to navigate 24 hours of plate-spinning whilst contemplating leaving the studio for a safer job.
The dream factory of 50s Hollywood is revered as much as it is parodied here: Joel Coen revels in glamorous set pieces, before undermining them by revealing the painstaking process that goes into making them. We are treated to an incredible synchronised swimming number with DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) and the campest tap number from Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), before the actors are brought back down to earth by their own vices.
Hail Caesar! stands apart from the Coens’ recent work as a comedic ode to 50s cinema, and it is refreshing to see them come back to their brand of absurd comedy. The philosophical meditation of purpose and place of Inside Llewlyn Davis and A Serious Man is nowhere to be found, and instead we are treated to an ensemble cast of broad but distinctive characters. Despite the absence of the Coen’s recurring good vs evil morality, Hail Caesar! keeps us breathlessly entertained by zig-zagging from plot to plot. Much like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, we are not expected to follow the mystery of the story but rather revel in how the micro-adventures unfold.
The Coen Brothers have rediscovered a stylish fervour that ties all the errant stories together and makes Hail Caesar! more than just a wheeling-out of old clichés.
Hail Caesar! is released nationwide on 26th February 2016.
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Watch the trailer for Hail Caesar! here: