The Good German (15)

Directed by Stephen Soderbergh, Written by Paul Attanasio (screenplay) and Joseph Kanon (novel)
On general release from 30th March 2007

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

I can't really see the point in the making of this film. Is it meant to be a homage to the classic movie Casablanca, or to the noir cinema of that period (i.e. the 1940s)? If so, it fails on both counts. It is without doubt style over substance.

Director Steven Soderbergh uses all the appropriate techniques in the making of The Good German - the correct lighting, the correct camera angles, the correct this and that - but it lacks soul, passion and integrity.

For instance, reporter Jake Geismer (George Clooney) - although he never actually see him do any reporting of the Potsdam Conference he is attending (where Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union decided how to administer the defeated Nazi Germany) and Lena (Cate Blanchett) are lovers reunited in wartorn 1945 Berlin, but they lack any sort of sexual chemistry on screen. As Marilyn Monroe said to Laurence Olivier, you either have it or you don't.

Blanchett is almost unrecognisable in playing the hard bitten whore, who provides a lot of service, you could say, to the weedy black marketeering GI Cpl Tully (Tobey Maguire), who is bumped off in mysterious circumstances. She has masses of make up, wears contact lenses which make her eyes look massive, and as for her German accent, leaves a lot to be desired.

Clooney, not the most charismatic of actors - an exception being Good Night, And Good Luck (also made in black and white) - stumbles his way through the film, as if on remote control.

The storyline zigzags all over the place, with little coherent structure. At the end I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters.

A redeeming feature of the film is the clever way Soderbergh effectively knits together documentary footage of blitzkrieged Berlin with re-enacted scenes.

But given the $45 million spent on the making of The Good German, I expected a lot more pluses than that. The names of Blanchett and Clooney may draw in the crowds to help repay that investment, but no matter what it is still a bad film.

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