THE GOOD GERMAN stars George Clooney as Jacob Geismer, a reporter in military dress who returns to Berlin after World War II seeking the love he left behind when he was an AP reporter there. It turns out that his obsequious military driver, Tully (played by Tobey Maguire), is now the lover of Jake’s lost love, Lena, played by Cate Blanchett. A nasty, brutal man, Tully learns that the Americans are looking for Lena’s husband, Emil, an SS officer during the war. He offers to sell Emil to the Russians, even though Lena tells him her husband died during the war. When Tully turns up murdered, Jake investigates to find out what’s happening. He is also trying to help Lena, but Lena is carrying several other dark secrets.
Shot in the style of film noir thrillers made after World War II, THE GOOD GERMAN is an anti-Holocaust movie with a moral worldview, but that worldview is compromised by a dark vision where Americans are corrupt and there are no real heroes. The protagonist turns out to be ineffectual. The movie also contains brief crude sex and excessive foul language.
(B, APAP, PC, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, D, MM) Light moral worldview that takes on the issue of the Holocaust but set in a dark world in post-war Berlin with some strong anti-American elements, man makes politically correct comment about the Russian Communists and their suffering under Hitler during World War II without noting that the Russians at one point had a self-serving pact with Hitler before the war; 40 mostly strong obscenities, including the use of the “f” word, one strong profanity and two light profanities; strong violence, but nothing excessive, includes men beaten up, man gets hit on head a couple times with some blood shot in black and white, man’s arm broken, gunfight, man stabbed in back, two images of murdered men, man’s body kicked, scuffles, fistfight, man punches woman in the stomach, and it is implied that one man takes a brick and bashes another man in the head; crudely depicted fornication in one scene, vaguely implied adultery in another scene, crude talk of past affair, woman strips in bar, and kissing; shot of upper female nudity of stripper but photographed in shadows; alcohol use; smoking; and, black market activities, American soldier tries to sell information to the Russian Communists, woman betrays her husband’s moral legacy in order to escape being charged with a terrible crime, wallet stolen, hero is ineffectual, hero is betrayed by a friend.
THE GOOD GERMAN tries to bring back the feel of the old Hollywood movies of the 1940s, but it doesn’t have any real appreciation for them. It also is really more like the dark film noirs made after World War II where positive American values and heroes are no match for the harsh realities of an immoral world. Regrettably, THE GOOD GERMAN is more joyless than intriguing.
Set during the Potsdam conference between the British, the Americans and the Russians, the movie stars George Clooney as Jacob Geismer, a reporter in military dress who returns to Berlin after World War II seeking the love he left behind when he was an AP reporter there. It turns out that his obsequious military driver, Tully (played by Tobey Maguire), is now the lover of Jake’s lost love, Lena. Tully turns out to be a nasty, brutal little soldier working in the black market who is having a torrid affair with Lena, played by Cate Blanchett.
Tully learns that the Americans are looking for Lena’s husband, Emil, who was an SS officer during the war. He offers to sell Emil to the Russians, even though Lena tells him that her husband died during the war. Jake learns about some of this, but before he can reclaim Lena from Tully, Tully turns up murdered. Jake investigates to find out what’s happening and to try to help Lena, but Lena is carrying several other secrets. Also, it turns out that her husband worked for one of Hitler’s rocket scientists. The Americans and the Russians are fighting over the scientists, even though the scientists had agreed to Germany’s use of slave labor camps associated with the Holocaust when Hitler was alive.
Shot in the style of film noir thrillers made after World War II, THE GOOD GERMAN turns out to be an anti-Holocaust movie. Thus, it has a moral worldview, but that worldview is compromised by a dark vision where Americans are corrupt and there are no real heroes. Furthermore, Jake, the protagonist, turns out to be ineffectual, and the movie contains crude sexual elements and plenty of strong foul language. The movie is also hurt by Tobey Maguire’s over-the-top, unconvincing performance as Tully.
The movie attacks the Americans for using Hitler’s rocket scientists even though they could have been tried for war crimes associated with the Holocaust. Of course, it should also be noted that the United States allied itself with Joseph Stalin, one of the biggest mass murderers in history, in order to defeat Hitler during World War II. One wonders if the liberal filmmakers are also bothered by that. Once again, the United States is made out to be the bad guy, rather than true villains like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and their henchmen.
THE GOOD GERMAN was made by cutting-edge politically correct filmmakers of today who don’t truly understand the greatness of the Golden Age of Hollywood, including the film noir thrillers they are trying to copy. It is a depressing, surprisingly uninvolving movie.
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