Review: “Hail, Caesar!” Is A Fine Addition To the Coen Brothers Collection





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Posted July 16, 2016 by

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There are a few things you know you’re always going to get when you start a Coen Brothers film: a rich cast of characters, comedy in the least expected places, and a story that feels familiar but is completely authentic. With “Hail, Caesar!” that is no different. Eddie Mannix (Brolin) is a Hollywood fixer for Capital Pictures in the 1950’s; different than a publicist who tries to spin everything their client does into a positive, Mannix tries to just sweep everything under the rug and hope people lose interest. When one of the companies biggest stars, Baird Whitlock (Clooney), gets kidnapped, it’s up to Mannix to not only quiet the tabloids from saying he’s just on a booze and sex bender like he’s done before but to also try to find the man everyone’s looking for so that they continue production on the film he’s supposed to be starring in. At the same time, up-and-coming movie star, Hobie Doyle (Ehrenreich), is finding that the crossover from Western to serious drama is not an easy one. He is either going to need to improve in a short amount of time or the whole movie is going to have to change in order to support his shortcomings. Throw in the fact that a young starlet, DeeAnna Moran (Johansson), is pregnant and no one knows who the father is, and Mannix has his hands full.


While there are so many stories and characters being introduced and followed throughout the film, the Coen Brothers find a way to make it all work and flow seamlessly when it should all just be chaos. As if to tell the audience they can always handle more, they throw in musical scenes with complex choreography and side characters that steal the spotlight like Frances McDormand as a mad scientist-like editor and Jonah Hill as a “professional person”; meaning if you have a problem that someone else can take the blame for, he’s your man. The whole time I was watching this film, I was waiting for the ball to drop; waiting for all of this to come crashing down in a convoluted mess that felt like it was missing something. What I got instead was a film that’s an homage to the Golden Age of cinema while also being an entertaining narrative on what life was like for celebrities in those times that ties itself up nicely at the end and makes you want to start it all over.

Tilda Swinton plays twin sisters Thora and Thessaly Thacker; writers that are blamed for writing gossip columns that take themselves very seriously while claiming the other is a hack and the sister you’re talking to is the real writer. While these characters would normally be reserved for a background role, Swinton delivers amazing performances and ends up being the glue that’s keeping all of these stories together. My favorite scene, however, is the interaction between Hobie Doyle and the director of his dramatic role Laurence Laurentz (Fiennes). You can tell immediately that Hobie does not have the acting chops to be in the film they’re making, but the way Laurentz handles him with kid gloves makes both characters endearing and the scene a bit of comedic genius at its best.

“Hail, Caesar!” is a fine addition to the Coen Brothers’ collection. I can’t wait to start this movie over and catch things I may have missed the first time around.





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