Hail, Caesar! – review

Some of the gags are a little too obvious – there’s a religious skit that’s a little too Life of Brian, a director whose alliterative name is mined for all it’s worth, and a well-executed climactic speech with a just-too predictable punchline. But those are nitpicks, anal nitpicks at that. The Coen Brothers are masters of comic craftsmanship, and though deconstructing it would be time-consuming, I can reduce how much pleasure you’ll get out of their approach to whether you find lines like “a mirthless chuckle” irrepressibly amusing, or a laughless non-starter. But they are lucid storytellers as well. On paper, a metaphor that likens the light of God – from which all that is righteous comes, to the light of the projection unit – from which all of cinema comes, looks unpalatable. On screen, the pair have a gift of craft that could convert the dead. The metaphor not only lands, it reconstitutes a thoroughly entertaining series of set-pieces into a moving whole. Rarely has “love of the movies” – so often used to give free passes to insufferable self-indulgence (Quentin, achem) – been used with such restraint to do the medium justice.

A

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