Hail, Caesar! – A Playful but Unrealised Coen Brothers Romp

I finally saw the Coen Brothers’ latest
Hail, Caesar! (click for IMDB overview). It’s very  playful, multilayered, satirical and witty as you would expect from the highly original Coen duo. Stylistically and comedically it felt reminiscent of a Mel Brook’s production. The production design is to die for and there are some jaw-dropping choreography scenes resembling a Gene Kelly movie. There is a gloriously funny scene between Ralph Fiennes character and Alden Ehrenreich and those who have seen Hail Caesar will know the one I’m talking about. George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansen and Alden Ehrenreich were captivating in every scene they appeared. The Francis McDormand editing room scene was a particular standout. There are so many references to the great films of the day that if you blink, you’ll miss a few.

At the midway point, I thought this could end up being my favourite movie of the year and a potential Coen favourite; even reaching the heights of their unheralded screenwriting masterpiece Barton Fink ( my review). However, my main criticism of the film by the movie’s end and why it doesn’t attain the heights of Barton is because it appears as an early draft Coen Bros movie script put to screen release. Essentially it’s premature and inconsequential ending gives the impression the movie was pushed out too early without the directors fully realising their own aims. By the end, the plot amounts to basically diddly-squat. Is it still worth seeing? Heck yeh!

Hail, Caesar!, like Barton might not be for everyone, which could be a good thing because it’s about how the Coens are celebrating the films which we being intrinsically part of ‘pop culture’ perhaps idealized a bit too much. A second tier Coen Bros film is still a great movie and I’m looking forward to seeing it again real soon. I give it an eight out of ten. Barton Fink, The Big Lebowsky, No Country For Old Men, Fargo and Llewyn Davis (click to read my review) remain my favourite Coen movies, but Hail, Caesar! coulda, shoulda been right up there if the script and character development had been fully realised. I still had a lot of fun with it and that’s the important thing.

Related Articles:
1. The best film no one will talk about this awards season – Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Barton Fink (Coen Brothers) – A Screenplay Masterpiece
3. Could watching the Phantom Thread become a *new* New Year’s tradition?

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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