I love Steven Soderbergh movies. I love that he takes chances, and tries to make different kinds of movies. I am a big fan of George Clooney, I think Tobey Maguire has tremendous talent and I worship the ground Cate Blanchett walks on. '40sfilm noiris my favorite movie genre, and I like the idea of making a movie in that style,, but with 21st Century allowances for explicit material. In fact, the idea of THE GOOD GERMAN, starring Clooney, Blanchett and Maguire, about the immediate aftermath of post-war Europe, is a home run all the way around.
But I absolutely hated the movie.
The characters were muddled, not even clear enough to be recognizable cliche, and all over the map. The story was not engaging. The style of filming was first rate, but it seemed like everyone involved was so intent on paying tribute, on showing they could recreate film just like the good old days, that they forgot to actually come up with a good idea.
The movie poster above is a direct homage to CASABLANCA. The comparisons are not favorable. It would be easy to say that since those classics have been with us over 60 years now, that they are just too ingrained, and it would be impossible to fairly judge a modern movie trying to do the same thing. I don't know about that. Todd Haynes managed to nail Douglas Sirk in FAR FROM HEAVEN a few years ago. Go back a few more years and check out THE LAST PICTURE SHOW; again nailing the period while updating to modern mores and subject matter.
I feel strongly that a '40s-stylenoirpicture can be made today. And I'm glad Soderbergh and Co. had the guts to try. But THE GOOD GERMAN is not a success. It sags when it should swell, and it commits the most cardinal sin of moviedom: it's boring. I hope they all try again, and I'm rooting for them, but if you wantFilm noirabout WWII, stick with CASABLANCA, THE THIRD MAN, or any of the infinitely better originals. You won't miss the adult content at all.