Unquestionably some of the greatest minds in modern cinema, the Coen brothers have consistently proven to push the boundaries of cinema through creative storytelling. Their latest feature Hail, Caesar! is an ambitious effort, attempting to tell the story of a Hollywood studio head (Josh Brolin), who’s job finds him managing the world’s biggest movie star (George Clooney), an eccentric western star (Alden Ehlreich), a prestigious director (Ralph Finnes), and a troubled celebrity (Scarlett Johansson), and while its inherent weirdness is often off putting, it’s an interesting concept, and the anthology method is successful. While its ultimately entertaining, the film feels as if it’s a series of loosely connected scenes that relate to the Coens’ satire of Hollywood.
As with a majority of the Coen Brothers movies, the cast of Hail, Caesar! is excellent. While many of the performers such as George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, and Channing Tatum play off their public personas, some of the extended cast such as Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and particularly Ralph Finnes make the most of minimal screen time. Josh Brolin makes for a very versatile lead, but surprisingly the film’s standout is Alden Ehlreich, a complete unknown who’s charismatic and humorous performance is absolutely the film’s highlight.
Hail, Caesar! is an interesting departure for the Coen Brothers, and while it never reaches the height of some of their hits, it’s consistently amusing and the cast makes it very rewatchable. It’s a film worth watching to be part of the conversation, and a ridiculous adventure that’s in line with what you’d expect from the iconic filmmakers. Grade: B