Crammed with A-list talent, “Hail, Caesar!” is a delightfully light and frothy love letter to a Golden Age of Hollywood which was much more gold-plated than 24-carat memories might suggest. Although not quite the madcap laugh-a-minute romp the expertly edited trailer might suggest – this is not “The Last Ten Minutes Of ‘Blazing Saddles’: The Movie” – it’s a jolly and warm movie simultaneously lionising and lampooning the Hollywood of old at twilight of the studio system and the dawn of the Red Menace.
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of production at Capitol Pictures and also acts as the studio’s ‘Fixer’ making sure its stars stay out of trouble and out of the papers, unless its for the right reason. When the star of the studio’s upcoming prestige picture “Hail, Caesar!”, matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped, Mannix must add finding his erstwhile leading man to his crowded to do list while fending off the enquiries of the gossip columnists, hungry for salacious studio tittle tattle.
The rosy nostalgic filter through which the Coen brothers show us 1950s Hollywood doesn’t prevent them from layering on the satire, albeit gently. Wonderful turns from Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and…er…Tilda Swinton are interspersed with amusingly realised pastiches of Hollywood’s output of the 1950s.
The cast are clearly having a tremendous time and its joyous to see such great actors pretending to be bad actors. While the lightness of tone prevents the mystery aspects of the film from ever really developing momentum, there’s enough in the personal journey of Eddie Mannix as he contemplates a life outside the hurly burly circus of movie production to hold the movie together.
Awash with charm, “Hail, Caesar!” is subime and ridiculous; a treat for movie fans and lovers of film alike. Under the bright and breezy direction of the Coens, the top notch cast bring the sparklingly witty script to vibrant, technicolour life.