Monday, January 12, 2009

"The Good German" (2006) - Movie Review

Can a film suck the energy out of you so that you hesitate so much to even write a review? Yes it can. Does not need to be a dramatically horrible film but just enough to push you off the edge of boredom and laziness to make you think like that? And it is little too troubling to see the talent pool of Steven Soderbergh with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett spoil the fun of watching a film. Especially if it also tries to reenact the black and white film noir experience in a particularly bad script. This is “The Good German”, a film with no interest drawing whatsoever from its audience.

With a faithful presentation in terms of colour, music and look, “The Good German” is on a murder mystery happening in the post World War - II Berlin. Jake Geismer (George Clooney), an American war correspondent comes to Berlin assigned to a boyish looking Tully (Tobey Maguire) as his driver. Tully is a snaky character having his slimy arms wrapped around a German woman Lena (Cate Blanchett) and earns his living in Black Marketing. There is an Emil Brandt missing in this picture for whom every one is looking for. That is the suspense out here which links these three and many others that when it is out you have no interest in knowing the truth as it seems.

The conversation in the film is supposed to be this shadowy things of mystic and suspicion. In the attempt to do that the character speak as if they were reading from a cue card. In the effort to bring back those acting days, it is a faltering presentation of a loose screenplay. Frankly we develop a stoic curiosity in knowing about Jake, Tully or the ever suspicious Lena. The film noir theme it poses does not stir any smart and quirky one liners or the looming investigation leading to strange lands in an already desolated and departed post war Berlin.

There is a passion to make this film in concentrating on the moods and elements of the old 40s films. The shadows are not glorified but are maintained of their ingenuity in putting its mark on a noir picture. The music by Thomas Newman is devoted to replicate the music of those times but Newman has his way of inserting his trademark tunes. Unfortunately though the talented work of his goes to the bland story of “The Good German”.

The film has patches of voice over narration. It is used as a prop put in heavily for the heck of it. It does not add any purpose or clarity to the film. It becomes the huge blame and incapability the voice over generally has on the opinion of coaches for screen writing which is that when the characters does not have real dimension to add an agenda or emotions, it is a cheap tool to convey those to the audience. Here Tobey Maguire’s Tully uses it to say his contention on dealing in Black Market while Lena and Jake have little to nothing to add a dimension to their hollow characters.

Lena is a neither a femme fatale nor the forbidden fruit every one goes nuts for. Honestly there is no attraction in Cate Blanchett to get that role kicking and craving. Nothing against her beauty but the mystical eagerness which generally pulls in the sane men to the madness does not seem to come out of her in this film. She stares in the light in wide angle or submerged in shadows with a constant absence of passion or deviousness. Her damsel in distress is another vacuum in the story of nothing but locations of broken buildings and sweaty uniforms.

“The Good German” is a perfectly formed boring film. There is nothing as a sense of direction or an effort to have a suspense we would care for. In the story telling we are distracted by the visual due to the lack of material in the characters and their deliveries of dialogues evaporating well before it is uttered. “The Good German” sucked the energy out of me and managed to evacuate the enthusiasm even to slam it in the review.

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