Good German, The
R
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -4

George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire. Written by Paul Attanasio. Directed by Steven Sodergergh.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Berlin, 1945.U.S. war correspondent Jake Geismer has just arrived to cover the upcoming Potsdam Peace Conference, where Allied leaders will meet to determine the fate of a vanquished Germany and a newly liberated Europe. It doesnt take him long to become ensnared in political intrigue. And while there he meets his former love, although somehow, now, not quite the person he once knew. She has been irrevocably changed by the war, the hardship of life in this ruined city and the burden of her own secrets. To survive, she has turned to prostitution and other things.

PREVIEW REVIEW: When a film contains a great deal of exposition, all that talk has to be delicately handled. Bogart in The Big Sleep does it affectively, Clooney in The Good German, does not. Indeed, Mr. Clooney is the least effective element in the production. Say what you will about his politics (because he sure does) Clooney is a real movie star. He even upstages Brad Pitt in Oceans 11 with panache and style. But here, he seems awkward with dramatic moments. Could it be that he is actually a limited actor? Or did he just feel uncomfortable with the strained dialogue and clumsy direction?

Another problem I had with the production has to do with the inclusion of the obscene language. Nowadays, moviegoers are used to hearing the f-word in their movie choices. But writer Paul Attanasio and director Steven Sodergergh go to great lengths to offer up a 50s-ish film noir, complete with static old Warner Bros. B & W photography, an atmospheric score reminiscent of Bernard Hermann, and even a THE END at the end. So to incorporate 28 uses of the f-word jolts you out of the mood meant for what I assume was supposed to be a salute to the filmmaking process of an earlier more judicious period. Were people that graphic with the f-word in mixed company during that period? Of course, some were, but not in the movies.

Its not a bad film, its just not very good. The end scenes are an homage to Casablanca. Not a good choice, because we cant help but compare the two films. Comparing a great film with an adequate film just makes the adequate film look inadequate. Whats more, here we are shocked at how badly people are supposed to have behaved during war, whereas Casablanca showed the triumph of the will. Which character trait would you rather view?

Video Alternatives: Judgment at Nuremberg. A U.S. judge presides over wartime criminal trials. Outstanding all-star cast includes Spencer Tracy, Maximillian Schell, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland (surprisingly moving performance) and Montgomery Cliff. Well crafted by Stanley Kramer.

Or, Casablanca. A great love affair set during the beginning of WWII. Honor and faithfulness prevail. Memorable dialogue and without the assistance of the f-word.

Or, You could watch a film about the Berlin air lift where America and its allies faced off the Russians to land in Russian-blocked Berlin at the end of the war. The people who had just been our enemies were being starved by the vicious people in control of the Red army. America and Englands air force risked their own lives to aid those suffering. Oh, I forgot, that story hasnt been brought to film for the past fifty years. Strange how that incident never seems to be retold. I guess it paints American in a good light. We wouldnt want that now.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: One soldier, a very crude man, uses obscene language in most every scene hes in.
Obscene Language: Around 30 obscenities, mostly the f-word.
Profanity: One profane use of Gods name.
Violence: There is a murder, and there are several fight scenes, two becoming graphic. A dead body is found and a man is threatened on several occasions, once having a gun stuck in hi middle. A wounded veteran is seen without his legs. A woman is punched in the stomach. We have heard that she had been raped. There is a flashback of the rape. The woman kills her abuser during the act. Blood: A wounded man and woman are seen bleeding from the head.
Sexual Intercourse: There are two sex scenes, one graphic. A woman has turned to prostitution in order to survive through the war.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: There are a couple of sexual conversations.
Drug Abuse: As was the custom of that period, several characters are seen smoking. Occasional drinking.
Other: None
Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)