Hail Caesar! (2016)

“Hobie Doyle: Would that it were so simple.
Laurence Laurentz: Would that it were so simple!
Hobie Doyle: Would that it were so simple.
Laurence Laurentz: Would that it were so simple!
Hobie Doyle: Would that it were so simple.
Laurence Laurentz: Would that it were so simple!”

‘Hail Caesar!’, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen in 2016, is an American comedy movie set in Hollywood during the 1950s. Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a producer at a film studio that is in the process of making an epic ‘swords-and-sandals’ film along the lines of the 1965 movie ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’. George Clooney plays Baird Whitlock, the star of the film who is kidnapped by a Communist cell make up of writers and academics, and it is down to Mannix and the unlikely Western movie star Hobie Doyle, played by Alden Ehrenreich, to recover him. This film has managed, within a few scenes, to become my favourite Coen brothers’ movie. The humour is more nostalgic and accessible than ‘The Great Lebowski’, the dim characters are more likeable than in previous films, and the rich period setting is creatively and lovingly crafted. The key to its success is in the way is reproduces the lavishness of the costumes, sets and general period styles, both the Roman outfits in the film-within-the-film, and the 1950s fashions. The Coens don’t just present a slavishly accurate reproduction of the 1950s and the Roman period, instead they ‘fake’ authenticity by recreating the look of 1950s cinema. They carefully balance this mediation of the past with modern expectations to avoid any dislocation of the experience of watching the film. It’s a smart, and perfectly executed movie that embeds the eccentric performances and parodic characters within a consistent and immersive world. The biggest trick the Coens pull is making the inept actor Doyle so likeable and turning him from a dim-witted actor into a charming and insightful protagonist. It’s light, frothy, constantly funny movie and a good way of getting under the skin of the politics of the film industry of the 1950s.

Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s great and easy to love. It’s a balance that, for me, the Coen brothers don’t always achieve.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s