Hail, Caesar follows the character of Eric Mannix (Josh Brolin), head of production and studio “fixer” at the fictional Capitol Studios in 1950s era Hollywood. It’s Mannix’s job to quash rumor columnists, saving movie stars from themselves and putting out a wide range of fires. When the star of Capitol’s latest blockbuster, cleverly titled Hail Caesar, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped for ransom, it’s up to Mannix to figure out how to get him back.
The movie’s best part is it’s comedy. One of the best scenes is when Aldren Ehrenreich’s thick-accented cowboy actor is forced into a movie about high-society types by a very rigid director as played by Ralph Fiennes. Ehrenreich is a new actor to me, and the movie seems to push him forward as a person that the Coen Brothers want you to take notice of, and there’s a lot to notice. His charming, loyal cowboy persona and his classic good looks make me hope that we see more of him soon.
Comedic moments are also beautifully handled by Tilda Swinton, playing twin gossip columnists, whose names alone was enough to make me laugh. Scarlett Johansson playing a character similar to Esther Williams and Channing Tatum’s musical scene was wonderful too, but they felt as though they were coming out of nowhere and didn’t serve the main premise of the plot.
There was a section of the movie devoted to a sub-plot about a group of disgruntled studio writers that seemed to have some kind of commentary going on within it, talking about the control of art and the public perception of fame and other very large themes, but I didn’t really understand the point they were making. This part of the movie really made it drag on and could have been devoted to something much better.
At the end of the movie, after all these characters’ disparate problems are supposed to have been solved, I didn’t feel anything. I was trying to process everything I had seen and so was everyone in the audience. There was no clapping, just a tense silence in the air.
If you’re a fan of Old Hollywood and the tropes that lie within it, then I would suggest going to the theater and watching it. If you aren’t and are looking for a fun movie for a night, I would wait until it’s out on DVD and rent it.