Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Good German

The Good German (Steven Soderbergh, 2006) [5]

For all the technical and aesthetic savvy Soderbergh uses in this film, the story, characters, and the film itself still ring hollow. There's no doubt Soderbergh is an expert director, and the template he lays down stylistically here is impressive. The film was shot the exact same way film noirs of the late 1940s would have been shot, from the sets, lighting, fixed lenses and even the matte screen for driving sequences. While it's an achievement with an impressive amount of work and detail put into it, to me it seems to be all flash and no substance. The story, while following the meandering film noir template, is too convoluted and utterly boring. The film limps its way towards the conclusion, with only temporary bits of interest to me. For a film so heavily indebted to its style, there is a clear lack of strong or lasting images. It all looks good but beneath its exterior shine is a hollow core. The images and the characters pass by without creating a strong bond with the viewer. No performance here stands out, even though Clooney's character personally fits the style of his acting, which is never very good. Tobey Maguire and Cate Blanchett disappoint for the most part. Classic film noir is not really about story or even images that much, even though they're important elements. What makes film noir great are characters and this film sorely lacks any of conviction. Grit is always better than glitz and this film lakes the former.

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