I was nodding off half way through the latest movie from the Coen brothers. “It’s not you, it’s me” I thought. A late night. “The film is possibly better than this”. I remember falling asleep in their 2002 offering The Man Who Wasn’t There, but blamed that on jetlag as I was watching it in Florida. But the fact a trio of pensioners walked out half way through made me realise it was them, not me.
It’s bursting with great actors. George Clooney is terrific as movie star Baird Whitlock, fronting the eponymous biblical epic; Channing Tatum is splendid as Burt Gurney, a thespian in an On the Town style musical; Tilda Swinton superb in dual roles as Thora and Thessaly Thacker, twin sisters and rival gossip columnists, while Scarlett Johansson excellent as DeeAnna Moran, an Esther Williams-type starlet with a smart mouth. Then there’s Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, the head of production at Capitol Pictures and troubleshooter who is constantly in meetings or fixing problems.
When Whitlock is drugged and abducted by a team called The Future, we expect the usual kidnap cliches. But this being a Coen brothers movie, nothing is as it seems.
As the comedy drama plays out, and reaches its conclusion, there was a huge feeling of “Is that it?” when the closing credits rolled. The audience sat in stunned silence as the realisation that there was nothing more
Yes, it’s entertaining and often hilarious, especially a scene with director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) and Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), a nice but dumb cowboy who has to adapt to a period costume drama. But while the A list stars were obviously lining up to appear, it’s a shame the story isn’t strong enough for their talents.
It looks beautiful and of the time, while the score is pleasantly forgettable.
However, given the siblings’ previous hits such as The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men, this, to quote a mate is ’Fail, Caesar!’