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The Good German (2006)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Drama, Mystery, Period Film, War Drama
Steven Soderbergh Steven Soderbergh
George Clooney George Clooney
Cate Blanchett Cate Blanchett
Tobey Maguire Tobey Maguire
Beau Bridges Beau Bridges
Tony Curran Tony Curran

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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While in post-war Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference, an American military journalist is drawn into a murder investigation which involves his former mistress and his driver. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: August 10, 2007
The word 'overrated' comes to mind when I think of Steven Soderbergh. In my opinion, he's one of the most egotistical and mediocre mainstream directors working in Hollywood today. His career started off with some great films like "Sex, Lies & Videotape", "Schizopolis" and "The Limey", and it churned out other great films like "Traffic" and "Ocean's Eleven", but the rest are just awful. He has this horrible habit of directing films that are too experimental for their own good. "Full Frontal" and "Solaris" are perfect examples, as was "Bubble" and his film from last year, "The Good German", which I am about to review.

What this film lacks is any feeling of togetherness. The film centers around three characters: Jake (George Clooney) is a journalist who has just come back to Berlin to cover the Potsdam Peace Conference, which was the gathering between Churchill, Truman and Stalin. Tully (Tobey Maguire) is a United States Corporal who is assigned to drive him around, but at night engages in some pretty underhanded dealings with the Russians. And Lena (Cate Blanchett) is Jake's former stringer who now wants desperately to flee Berlin. The whole film is about people not being who they say they are, twists and surprises and the occasional murder. Steven Soderbergh is trying to make another "The Maltese Falcon". It just looks too fake.

For a black and white film, this is some of the worst cinematography I have seen. Soderbergh needs to be shown how to light a black and white picture, because it's uneven and far too dark at points, and then it will suddenly look like a nuclear holocaust outside. His editing style is sloppy, with the side screen fades and the quick cuts with the heightened score by Thomas Newman. Soderbergh could have taken this idea and really made something out of it. Instead, it looks as if he didn't have the talent nor the energy to take this film to the next level and really make "The Good German" something to remember.

As far as the performances are concerned, everyone is miscast. George Clooney is totally unconvincing as Jake. He is always getting the crap beat out of him, and that just doesn't seem right. Secondly, Clooney is a good lead, but not a lead in a 1940's noir film. They needed someone like Billy Crudup. Cate Blanchett gives what is probably her worst performance to date as Lena. Her accent is fine, but she goes too over the top with the melodrama, at points, and it makes her emotional scenes seem laughable. And, Tobey Maguire is the worst miscast of them all, trying to play this tough guy, when all you see is someone who looks like they should be working at the ice cream stand. I didn't buy him for a second in the role. Beau Bridges makes a nice supporting performance in the film, the first mainstream picture he's done in a while; otherwise, there really isn't a single performance that stands out as anything other than dull and mediocre.

I really wanted to enjoy "The Good German". I wanted Soderbergh to surprise me and prove that he is a consistent and talented directors. He has yet to do that. He gets too experimental for his own good, but not in a good way. When Gus Van Sant gets experimental, the outcome is at least able to be appreciated. There is virtually nothing to appreciate about "The Good German" other than the final credits. And, I have to say that, after all the stops Soderbergh pulled out to make this film look like a 1940's noir film, why in the hell did he decide to stick with the rolling credits? Give me a break. With this A-list cast, you would expect this film to be something more than nothing. It's not. It's just nothing. 1/10.
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Ginose #1: Ginose - added 08/10/2007, 02:48 AM
I've been browsing by this everytime I go to *INSERTBIG MOVIE RENTAL CHAIN HERE* and I've always stopped myself from renting it. Just reading the back didn't make it sound very entertaining, now that I here it is a flop artistically as well as plot-wise, I see no need to even consider it any longer... though you have been wrong before...
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