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Hail, Caesar!
Genre Comedy

Hail, Caesar! is an oxymoronic post card from the Coen brothers. On the one hand, it's a light-hearted, madcap, send-up of the Golden era Hollywood of the '50s. Then on the other hand... or wing, it's also a comic behind-the-curtain examination of studio politics as Capitalist America tried to subvert any hint of Communist ideology in mainstream media.

While the Coen brothers have had their share of serious films, Hail, Caesar! is a return to unapologetic silliness. Although, you get the impression that there's a lot more going on behind the eyes on this one. The film functions much like a Monty Python film, lacing a series of related sketches together by way of larger-than-life characters and leveraging some irreverent comedy in the process.

It's not so much about story as it is about entertainment. Somehow they've managed to compel their audience with grand frivolity as they playfully strum away without feeling the need to ultimately connect the dots. It's like their version of a David Lynch film, titillating the audience with mood, character and a surreal reality, while peeling away a flap of skin to reveal something more sinister. The difference is that instead of fear, you experience foolhardy exuberance.

The cast are having the time of their lives. Josh Brolin is the straight man and studio fixer, whose commitment to doing the right thing for the good of the studio, leaves him wrought with guilt about sacrificing his home life. George Clooney spoofs his blameless movie star image by being a clueless and dubious leading man, while Alden Ehrenreich is perfectly cast as a happy-go-lucky and out-of-his-depth rustler turned Western movie star.

The cast is bolstered by strong supporting acts including: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Channing Tatum, while a myriad of cameos from the likes of Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill keep you on your toes. It's a first-class ensemble, who assemble to put a mirror up to the system... elbowing Hollywood as they unmask the glitz as an inside joke with a twinkle in their eyes.

The tone is similarly poised to the frivolity of The Grand Budapest Hotel, except there's less window dressing and more substance. It maintains its studio stage perspective as we get an exec's view on the era, which has many parallels with the screenwriter biopic, TrumboAre the Coen brothers ripping into the 1953 film, Julius Caesar, starring Marlon Brando or, is it more interested in Spartacus, which was written by Dalton Trumbo himself?

The answers and intentions are not clear and perhaps this is what restricts Hail, Caesar! from becoming one of their best. It certainly demands a second viewing to wring more out of its paradoxical nature, but on the surface it makes great entertainment. From deep-end line delivery notes from the director, an exhilarating dance number from Tatum to a rousing speech from Clooney, the film seems content with being a love letter and dirty snapshot of Golden era Hollywood.

The bottom line: Enjoyable

7.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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