Hail, Caesar! (2016)

O Clooney, Where Art Thou?

Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum

In the 1950s, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) works as a Hollywood fixer for  Capitol Pictures. His job is to clean up and solve any problems that big name stars in the industry might encounter, with the utmost discretion. During the filming of prestige picture Hail, Caeser!, star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) disappears. Eddie must deal with that, on top of unmarried actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) being pregnant, Western star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) not making a smooth transition into starring in a period drama, and twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessalay Thacker (Tilda Swinton, both times).

To say the picture feels crowded is an understatement. A brutal edit would've been beneficial, as an overstuffed cast and needless subplots can be sighted all throughout. It's as though the Coens let a hoarding disorder dictate their choices, as Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill and both instances of Tilda Swinton end up feeling superfluous.

It's an exhausting process to jump through each of the too many subplots, leaving viewers with whiplash and making the 106 minute runtime seem extended by an hour. The best course of action would have been to commit this idea to a mini-series, which would have allowed for more time spent with the wide array of characters, developing them and their individual tales.

Despite this, the assembled cast each deliver top notch performances. As the likeable lunkhead of a star, George Clooney is wonderful as Baird Whitlock. But Alden Ehrenreich steals the show, bringing a delightful portrayal of the lovable Hobie Doyle, making any scenes he's a part of well worth the watch.

It's evidently clear that the Coens hold a deep adoration for cinema. This is showcased through Eddie's deep seated hope in the industry, as well as the marvellous set pieces which crop up throughout. A particular standout is the dance number 'No Dames', which feels as though it's been lifted directly out of a 50's Hollywood movie. Then there's Roger Deakins' first-rate cinematography, which is glorious to behold.

The Coens take on the film industry carries much potential, but an overabundance of characters and plotlines leaves Hail, Caesar! falling short. It's worth wondering if the material would have been better served as a mini-series, where Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand could have appeared for more than a single scene each.