Tuesday, 8 March 2016

REVIEW - HAIL, CAESAR! (ETHAN COEN AND JOEL COEN)


A featherweight farce from the Coen brothers that seems to spite its own best qualities, Hail, Caesar! is a most dysfunctional feature - remarkably so, and regrettably so. It burgeons over with inspiration, such that Ethan and Joel almost appear afraid of the potential consequences of relenting to the demands of any one particular component, and proceed instead to waffle on with something else. There's trepidation to their approach here, papered over with political intrigue that's second nature to these boys, and whose aggressive intellectualism only reconfigures the rest of the film's flippancy as fluff. And yet Hail, Caesar! thrives on this dichotomous side to its character, procuring strange suspense at each juncture, whether the film will veer right or left, good or bad, dead funny or deadly serious. The skill in the screenplay shows up in superb characterisations from a brilliant ensemble, relishing their withering one-liners with flair as fleet-footed as Channing Tatum, whose choreographed sequence is among the film's finest. And there's plenty more to find in Hail, Caesar!, from a wondrous recreation of an old aquatic picture, to virtually every single scene featuring the excellent Alden Ehrenreich, harnessing a level of comedic motivation he's never before even had the chance to hint at. Ehrenreich and his co-stars keep the film afloat, as the Coens themselves threaten to sink it - even their most permissible impulses, such as the studio sheen of the visual scheme, or the inherent ephemerality of the concept, don't quite fit together as flush as they surely should. Hail, Caesar! fully intends to be disposable; it's a slight, but certain disappointment that it's as easy to dispose of as this.