Hail Caesar! The triumphant film by the Coen brothers opens the Berlinale

Article published on Sept. 14, 2017
Article published on Sept. 14, 2017

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Yesterday the 66th Berlinale opened with the Coen brother's Hail Caesar! It is a rhythmic comedy full of humor and subtleties, precise storytelling, perfectly oiled implementation and star cast.

The lights are dimmed before the room becomes completely dark. In front of us appears the logo of the various Golden Bears and soon also the little melody that arouses immediate memories.

Once again we sit in the comfortable armchairs of the cinemas at Potsdamer Platz. A horde of journalists is eagerly waiting in the dark for the opening film of the 66th Berlin Film Festival: Hail, Caesar! by the Coen brothers - in international preludes, ladies & gentlemen.

Getting started with a BANG!

Hail, Caesar! is a virtuosic, colorful and extravagant film that takes us behind the scenes of Hollywood during the 1950s. The viewer follows the stride of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a fixer whose task was to eliminate all sorts of spontaneous problems on the movie sets of the infamous Los Angles studios.

Furthermore, the Coen comedy shows the illegitimate child of waterballet start dancer Anna DeeMoran (Scarlett Johansson, in a mixture of Jessica Rabbit and Arielle), the professionalism of Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes, in complete British restraint) and the clumsy manners of a beginner, masterfully embodied by Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehenreich), who seems to have come straight out of a Western, must forge a new image and then that of of refined intellectual. Burt Gurney (the incredible Channing Tatum as a dancing sailor and tap dancer),in turn, secretly  dreams of communism...

But the biggest coup is probably the sudden disappearance of the megastar Baird Whitlock (Clooney, in combination with the Coen brothers is always a blast) whilst he's in the mids of filming the blockbuster of the year. All hopes rest on him. The studios shelled out an enormous amount for the new film. 

Whilst trying to find Whitlock, Mannix (inspired by MGM's real production man) travels through different scenes from Broadway production to musical. In doing so, he makes a review of the magic that brought the Hollywood machine to life in its golden age on the screen.

As a man for everything, Mannix also controls the daily routine in the cinema and together with his faithful secretary creates amusing references. In the pitch-dark editing room actress Frances McDormand tries to, with fag in her mouth and foot on the pedal, control the film roll and scissors. 

The obvious fun that the actors and directors had in filming is quite contagious and we spend an hour and a half laughing with an enthusiastic audience who is delighted to walk from one set to another and the intrigue but also gets involved with all the winks and allusions. 

From extras with dubious intentions to the journalist (Tilda Swint) on the hunt for the next scoop, past the Diva and the screenplay author, who is thirsty for recognition: we are happy to let the Coen brothers take us into this loving mock about Hollywood. It is an environment that is overwhelming and at the same time so deliciously appealing. In the background, there always are the rhythmically masterly intrigues that never leave out the biting humor and the love the Coen brothers have for the seventh art. 

Hail, Caesar! by Joel & Ethan Coen: in theaters on February 18, 2016