A war correspondent (George Clooney) returns to Germany, supposedly to
continue the job he had before the war, but actually
to find and get back together with his pre-war lover (Cate Blanchett). He is met at the airport by an enlisted man
(Tobey Maguire) who has taken
advantage of his motor pool job, with easy access among all zones in Berlin, to
build a sizeable black market and prostitution business. Oh - and his girlfriend
just happens to be Cate Blanchett!
The first act is from Maguire's point of
view, the second act from Clooney's, and the last from Blanchett's. A great
deal of intrigue revolves around Cate's husband, and what she did during the
war. The Russians and Americans are both very interested in her and her
purportedly dead husband.
The Good German (2006) was an attempt by Steven Soderbergh
(producer/director) to make a classic 1940s noir. He used nothing but 1940s
vintage cameras and old film stock, and set it in post-Hitler Germany, shortly
before the Potsdam Conference. There was no problem with Soderbergh's attempt to make a film in an old style.
As a technical achievement, The Good German is wildly successful,
and captures the exact look and feel Soderbergh was after. Additionally, he got
vintage performances from most of his cast.
What he didn't do was create a
Like the films from the 40's, the visual style put emphasis on the story
but, unfortunately, the story just didn't hold up well. The structure of the
film required revealing the mystery a little at a time, which meant that we
couldn't know too much about the main characters until it was time for the key
plot twists, and hence never had anyone to identify with.
For me, this was an interesting experiment, and proved that classic noir
can still be made today. I would like to see more done in this vein, but
starting with a more suitable story.
If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to
explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by
our definition, a
C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs
and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:
Despite the A-list stars and director, it is a film aimed at a
small film-school audience.