I am a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, and have loved every film of theirs that I have seen. I saw their newest film Hail, Caesar! over the weekend and was extremely disappointed. The Coen Brothers are fantastic directors and writers, but they seriously missed with this film. The plot really doesn’t go anywhere and really fails to interest. There are way too many characters and their stories really don’t intersect or depend on each other. The film actually received pretty positive reviews and even an Oscar nomination for production design, but I really was not a fan.
The film centers on Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a producer in 1950s Hollywood, who specializes in fixing the problems of the studio’s stars. These problems range from casting decisions to unmarried actresses becoming pregnant to one of the studios biggest stars being kidnapped. The actor that is kidnapped is Baird Whitlock, who is played by George Clooney. I think if the film had focused on the kidnapping storyline, the film could have been much improved. The film tries to have a large focus on many of the characters, which causes the kidnapping conflict to feel rushed and unresolved. It is certainly interesting to see the scale of Mannix’s job, but it takes away from the overall story. There are simply too many characters and problems to properly address them all in a two hour film.
I mentioned before that the film was nominated for an Oscar in Production Design, which I do actually believe that it deserved because the film looks great. There are several scenes which are clips from fictional films the studio has made. The scenes really resemble films from the 1950s in all aspects. I was very impressed with the look of this film.
For me I think this film will always be unfairly compared to the other great films from the Coen Brothers. The film definitely has some entertaining moments and has an amazing cast including Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Johan Hill, and Frances McDormand, among others. This incredible cast all gives strong, but small and limited performances. When compared to the Coen Brother’s great films like Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowksi (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007), and others it is hard not to be disappointed at the lackluster plot of this film. I also believe that if the film had focused more on and further developed the kidnapping conflict and the characters involved that the film could have really been great. If you are to see this film, do not expect the greatness of the other Coen Brother’s films because I believe like me you will come out very disappointed.
Here is a very positive review of the film.