My Plot review: Not Recommended
What's your favourite Coen brothers film? At this stage in the sibling's joint career it might be easier to ask what 'type' of Coen Brothers film you like most. To decide between the dark comedies of BURN AFTER READING and FARGO or the ultra-violent masterpieces of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and TRUE GRIT isn't easy. So going into HAIL, CAESAR! I anticipated where it would place in one of the many 'Coen Brothers Films Ranked' blogs across the internet. My hopes were high.
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) takes us to 1950's Hollywood as a 'studio fixer' for Capitol Pictures. He resolves everything from his stars' relationships, unplanned pregnancies and potential arrests. So when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped by a group known only as 'The Future' it's up to our pal Mannix to go get him back.
As the story unfolds we're introduced to an impressive cast within the Capitol Pictures world. An acclaimed director (Ralph Fiennes) a miscast cowboy (Alden Ehrenreich) a mermaid-in-distress (Scarlett Johansson) a musical sailor (Channing Tatum) and rivalling twin journalists (Tilda Swinton x2). This where HAIL, CAESAR! starts to show it's greatest strength and unfortunately, it's biggest weakness.
"Each of these characters allow the Coens to play with different film genres in new and entertaining ways. "
Standout scenes in particular involved Ehrenreich (hilariously) moving from the comfort's of an all out western to a subtle drama helmed by Fiennes. And I completely loved the choreography adopted by Channing Tatum in the musical number of 'No Dames'. However while these sub-plots offered little to no resolution, they essentially stole the show and forfeited my interest in the main storyline. Every time the camera cut away from one of the Capitol Picture studios the film stuttered.
Visually, the Coen brothers film felt bloated and uninspired. So the revelation that cinematographer legend Roger Deakins was behind the camera was - by far - the biggest disappointment of all. And that's the theme of HAIL, CAESAR! - a collection of highly talented film makers underperforming in a meta-drenched commentary on Hollywood, religion and politics.
With the many unanswered questions, loose ends and mysteries that HAIL, CAESAR! challenges us with as the credits role, I find myself trying to only answer one. Who the hell cares?