On the one hand, this movie is funny, subtle and lovingly rendered, but on the other it’s self-indulgent, slow and silly. It’s polished, well-acted and satirical, but lacking in engagement, plot and genuine heart. It’s a self-referential piece about how a nitwit Hollywood actor (George Clooney) is kidnapped by a bunch of Communist script-writers. We follow the studio owner as he juggles projects and tries to retrieve his star. As gorgeous as the filming is, we just don’t care. It’s style over substance – okay, that’s part of the film’s message about Hollywood and the movie industry, but it cannot resist betraying its own message by trying to make us care about the movie mogul (making him religious, giving him the dilemma about going to work for a more ‘serious’ company, etc). Gentle as it all is, as entertaining as the set-pieces might be, it falls slightly short in its resolution. All that said, I’m a big Coen Brothers fan and will not be deterred from seeing their future work. Hail, Caesar! seems a stepping-stone to something new for them – and I’m happy to go on that journey with them. They will probably lose a few people along the way (so many people went out to the loo while I was watching it!), but I think they will also recruit a fair few new fans. It’s a 7/10 from me (albeit that others may give it a much better score).
Hail, Caesar! reviewed