Set in 1950’s Hollywood Hail, Caesar! tells the story of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), Capitol Pictures’ professional fixer.
Mannix shields the studio’s stars from any scandal and ensures that their public image remains squeaky clean. From pregnancy scandals, affairs and drunken brawls Mannix always finds a a way to drives things — albeit not always using the most direct route.
But when mega star Whitlock Whitlock (George Clooney) disappears halfway through filming his latest movie, Mannix realises that this may be one cock up he can’t fix.
Whitlock arguably the studio’s biggest star and Mannix has been covering his notorious womanizing and boozing for years to keep him that way. It’s Whitlock’s fame and fortune that made him such a good target for his kidnappers. Calling themselves “the future” the star’s captors demand $100,000 for the safe return of the celebrity.
Mannix has to find a subtle way of getting Whitlock while avoiding twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker. If the twins can’t dig up any gossip on the star then they plan to run a piece on a scandal from the studio’s past. So whatever the outcome the poor man can’t win.
All the while Whitlock isn’t in any real danger. He’s rather enjoying a break from filming his new gladiator biblical. As Mannix embarks on his rescue mission all of his good work covering his star’s tracks begun to unravel. And so begins race against time to fix everything before the whole studio collapses amid a unparrelleled amount of scandal.
Lovers of the Coenverse will be delighted to find that Hail, Caesar! shares the Hollywood-studio setting as the Barton Fink, and the exact-same fictional studio: Capitol Pictures. We are shown the Hollwood dream factory operating at maximum velocity, and Joel and Ethan revel in the absurdity of it all.
Hail, Caesar! is likely to fry the brains of anyone who hasn’t experienced the Coen brothers’ antics over the past 16 years. Like in The Big Lebowski the kidnap plot isn’t the movie’s central concern. Instead it’s a small part of a much bigger canvas.
Hail, Caesar! is a beautifully crafted, yet ridiculous, masterpiece.
By Ruth Walker