Coen Brothers love letter to the golden age of Hollywood is far too pleased with itself…

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Joel and Ethan Coen have always succumbed to a certain smugness in their films but this has been forgiveable because on the whole their work has been uniformly brilliant. Whilst they have never matched the genius of The Big Lebowski or Fargo, with Inside Llewyn Davis and especially No Country For Old Men amongst others, they have been at the forefront of Hollywood directors in terms of critical acclaim in recent years.

It is a shame then that Hail, Caesar! is such a mess. Firstly, it doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be. It’s a comedy that isn’t funny, a satire that isn’t biting and a thriller that isn’t thrilling. Secondly, the starry cast looks good on paper but in the end the amount of big names just becomes distracting with nobody really getting much screen time aside from Josh Brolin who is solid but offers nothing we haven’t seen from him before.

(Takes deep breath) George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are just too many ego’s and disparate performers to work when crammed in together. The appearance of the seemingly ubiquitous Channing Tatum grated on me as well. After being annoying in Foxcatcher, average in the Jump Street films and bland in The Hateful Eight, I really don’t understand why some of the worlds best directors continue to clamour to feature him in their films.

Ironically the best thing about Hail, Caesar! is possibly the least famous actor of the lot, Alden Ehrenreich, who is funny and charismatic. Ehrenreich has recently been announced to play Han Solo in one of the upcoming Star Wars anthology films. Interesting…

This is the Coen Brothers though so it’s not all bad. The films within a film are mostly on point and they capture the look and feel of classic era Hollywood perfectly. It is ok being self satisfied if you are still making great work. Hail, Caesar! is a film for the film industry to enjoy, not the audience.