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By Heinrich Domingo

Cinema is but a reflection of the real world. The glistening set of Hollywood is nothing but a decorated stage of our own lives. This is what Hail, Caesar! wants the audience to understand in its comedy-filled, one and a half hour plot. Blurring the line between real and reel lives, this film critiques the Hollywood industry and its narcissistic, exploitative, and deceptive nature.

Hail Caesar

The story centers on the life of production team head Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) and his difficult task of solving issues of his director and stars. A disgruntled director, a budding actor, a grumbling actress, a communist dancer, and a nowhere-to-be-found main act bothered him deeply. As he tried so hard to fix each of the problems, paparazzi threatened to release a story against his actor and another production courted him to be with them with a high-level position. This is a movie within a movie that loves to play on how reality and fantasy work side by side. It is about both everything and nothing – every story a production man meets and nothing that typical viewers would ever encounter in actual life.

Joel and Ethan Cohen have produced movie pieces that linger in the memories of cinephiles. Fargo, No Country For Old Men, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? introduced us to characters living in their absurd worlds. In their recent film, they need not to go far for an inspiration. All they have to do is to look into the industry where they have lived in the past years. Hence, they created a film that presented Hollywood life as unbeautiful, flawed, and real. On the other hand, they presented actual life as scripted, dramatic, and dream-like. The inversion of the worlds is brilliantly meshed together that the audience might never notice. This is the beauty of the brother’s art. They can pass off ideas so consistent that we allow ourselves to be lost inside them.

Also, Hail, Caesar!’s beauty comes from the outstanding performance of its major cast. We see George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, and Tilda Swinton like we have never seen them before. Each enlivened the character which they are tasked to portray. With their acting, viewers will definitely be entertained.

One of the key elements of the movie’s plot is the fight of the show business industry against communists. It is interesting to look at how Hail, Caesar! discussed the topic differently from what Trumbo did. Nevertheless, it is good that topics such as this come once in a while in mainstream media.

It is truly interesting to allow Cohen brothers mingle with two worlds both familiar and unfamiliar to us. Reel life as ugly and flawed system and the real life as coherent and flawless are images worth seeing on the big screen. Catching Hail, Caesar! in cinema is more than updating our movie database of Cohen brothers being in awe of their cinematic tricks. It is about being once again feeling the satisfaction of watching a Cohen creation.

4 stars