10 Years: “The Good German”

Just because a film has a stellar cast and top director doesn’t always mean it’s going to deliver. You’ll have high hopes, but somehow, in ways you don’t expect, it just doesn’t work out the way you want. For a film like this, it’s rare, but when it does happen, it’s pretty damn surprising and you’d think you’d remember it for all eternity.

The Warner Bros. Pictures film “The Good German”, wastes what could’ve been a truly intriguing story and instead settles for dull and lifeless, to the point where by film’s end, you don’t know what the hell has happened.

This neo noir drama stars George Clooney (“Money Monster”, “Hail, Caesar!”), Cate Blanchett (upcoming “Weightless”, “Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey”), Tobey Maguire (upcoming “The Boss Baby”, “Pawn Sacrifice”), Beau Bridges (“Black-ish”, “Masters of Sex”), Tony Curran (“Roots (2016)”, “Elementary”), Leland Orser (“Berlin Station”, “Ray Donovan”), Jack Thompson (“The Light Between Oceans”, “Ruben Guthrie”), Robin Weigert (“American Horror Story”, “The Night Shift”), Ravil Isyanov (“Shooter (2016 TV series)”, “Sniper: Ghost Shooter”), Christian Oliver (“Timeless”, “Dr. Klein”), Dave Power (“Bones”, “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday”), Don Pugsley (“Red Sky”, “Louie”), and Dominic Comperatore (“Show Me a Hero”, “Black Box”).

The film was directed by Steven Soderbergh (“The Knick”, “Side Effects”) and written by Paul Attanasio (“Bull”, “The Sum of All Fears”). It is based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Kanon.

The film originally opened on Dec. 15, 2006 in a limited capacity before expanding wide on Jan. 19, 2007. It would go on to be nominated for one Academy Award, one Alliance of Women Film Journalists award, and one Broadcast film Critics Association award among a handful of nominations and wins.

I’m not sure what I was expecting. I’d seen it once before, and ever since, I’ve been avoiding it. I guess it was because I knew how dreadful it was. Yet, I was dumb enough to decide that watching it again was a good idea. The fact that I bought it used doesn’t help. I don’t even think I can muster the excitement I usually have for films that turn 10 years old. It was just a waste of almost two hours, which I’ll never get back, and I’m even more disappointed because I couldn’t even enjoy the work from the actors involved. Guess I better just get on with it.

The best things about this film are the overall look and feel, and the various other elements that bring this world to life; the costumes, sets, etc. From the moment the film begins, you get it. You see the black and white look of classic films and you hear the sound of the time. Something that’s a far cry from what composer Thomas Newman (“”) typically does. This film’s supposed to be something like a noir film, complete with mystery, and it more or less achieves that level, yet, for all of it’s technical beauty, there’s little else to get exited about. If it were only about the look and feel, this film would be perfect! It’s not, so that’s a supreme disappointment.

It’s even more so when you look at the actors. They look great in this black and white throwback to classic films, especially Blanchett, who has always had that classic film star look. However, due to underdevelopment, they’re not interesting. I found myself not caring about the characters or even what the hell they were doing. I couldn’t even decide (I still can’t) if I was watching decent performances or bad ones that had some help in hiding the fact that they were bad. This in turn led to another problem, which ultimately kept me from enjoying this film even a tiny bit. The mystery was not intriguing, but dull. The overall film utilized a slow burn type of storytelling, and this actually backfired. I found myself to be quite bored from what was going on. At some point, and then all the way through the rest of the film, I stopped paying attention to what was going on. I sort of knew, but even then, I still had questions. By film’s end, I was utterly lost, but I also didn’t care. This issue, borne out of dull characters, then found its way back to the same lifeless characters. Even if the characters had been better developed, I wouldn’t have been able to care too much. They were each part of some larger mystery, one Clooney desperately wanted to understand, but I was so bored by the mystery unfolding before me, that the character’s and their backstory’s wouldn’t have shone through.

Man that was such a tiresome circle to get through. Just like the film. A continuous circle of hate.

With some films, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t come around to liking them. It’s just not possible, even if you’re in the best of conditions for movie watching. Sure it’s a shame, particularly if you really wanted to come away like the film, but that just means that you still have your own opinions on what’s good. Critics may help guide you, as does word of mouth, but sometimes all you need is you. You know what you like better than anyone.

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