Release date: February 5, 2016
Studio: Universal Pictures
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screenwriters: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum
Review By: David S Dawson
Hail Caesar! delivers on the unique blend of zany comedy, outrageous performances from big movie-stars, and dazzling visual spectacle that the Coen Brothers are known for. Built around the kidnapping of high profile studio star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney in yet another goofy turn for the Coen Brothers) the film explores the inner workings of the studio system in the 1950’s.
There is a real joy in the performances in this film. No matter how big or how small any actor’s scenes are everyone seemed to bring their absolute best to their roles. Ralph Fiennes, in particular, is positively delightful as increasingly frustrated film director Laurence Lorenz who is struggling to make his studio assigned ‘former’ singing-cowboy lead actor fit into the period drama he is crafting. Channing Tatum is also mesmerizing as one of the studio’s new stars starring in a musical, complete with a not-so-subtle song and dance number that is one big set-up for a joke about sailors and their too-tight trousers.
Visually the picture is just as joyously and meticulously crafted as the performances. Each new scene is a visual delight in which the opulent sound stages and sweeping vistas of the Hollywood backlots are beautifully lensed. The Coen Brothers manage to take their particular brand of screwball comedy and, once again, effortlessly shoe-horn it into wonderfully crafted images worthy of any independent art-house picture.
If you are a fan of the Coen Brothers or of the old Hollywood pictures from the 4o’s and 50’s then Hail Caesar! will delight you in many ways.