‘Fargo’ is the only film by the Coen Brothers which I really love, I haven’t seen all their work but the other movies of theirs I have seen always leave me wanting a little more. I enjoy aspects of them but for me they often fail to come together as a whole. From what I knew of ‘Hail, Caesar!’ I thought this could be my favourite Coen Brothers movie yet, even if it’s another abduction/ransom story!
Only last month ‘Trumbo’ was released, a film which shows the audiences the art of film-making and the ‘golden’ age of Hollywood. As a film fan I loved that, here too ‘Hail, Caesar!’ has this element going for it. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes moments on the sets of the various films we get a look at here. Whilst these sequences were good though, they never became great or impressed me that much. I feel there was much more scope to make these scenes that bit more elaborate. I thought that these moments would have been useful for the pacing of the film, however there weren’t enough of these moments to help this issue and because of this I always found that the film was only ever a few steps ahead of the approaching boredom following close behind it. The pacing was a problem and with a running time of under two hours it could have done with an injection of speed at times. Humour would have been another aspect which would of helped this. Don’t get me wrong the film is funny, however most of this humour comes from one character, Hobie Doyle who’s played by Alden Ehrenreich. He had a great performance and his scenes always entertained, there should have been an increased effort to make him more of a central character. This would have given the film a more consistent level of humour, helping with the pace. Due to the sparse nature of the humour the film isn’t ever as fun as it looks like it could have been.
Set in this golden film age of ‘Hollywood’ the movie really does look the part, whether this was through the costumes, props or sets this was probably one of the best elements to the film. Alongside this would be the fantastic cast. I’ve already mentioned Alden Ehrenreich who without a doubt steals the show. The other main character is Eddie Mannix who’s played by Josh Brolin, by this stage we all know how capable Brolin is as an actor and he’s a good leading man. He’s supported by George Clooney who plays Baird Whitlock, the big actor of the time. Clooney is good when he’s acting his character acting but other than this I found his scenes the most boring. Other names involved are Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum & Jonah Hill who all have quite small but memorable roles, with the exception of Hill’s throwaway scene. Two of the performers who are sorely underused though are Ralph Fiennes & Tilda Swinton. Only last month we saw them well and truly in the spotlight in the character driven ‘A Bigger Splash’ so maybe we’ve just been spoilt recently. Here though, I was always itching for them both to have more screen time, especially Fiennes who has brilliant chemistry with Ehrenreich. What we do get is of course great though. Finally there is a bizarre narration accompanying the film from Michael Gambon. I really didn’t see the point of this and I found it quite random and a little pointless really.
I did like the film though, I thought it’s style and cast were both great. However the writing just never matched either of these elements in quality. This meant that there didn’t really feel like there was much bringing the film together. With pacing issues and not enough comedy I was always left wanting more with ‘Hail, Caesar!’ which is a shame because it now joins the ranks of some of the Coen’s other films which I always end up wanting to like a little more than I actually do.
Rating – 6/10
Question: What’s your favourite Coen Brothers project?
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