Berlin, July, 1945. Journalist Jake Geismer arrives to cover the Potsdam conference, issued a captain's uniform for easier passage. He also wants to find Lena, an old flame who's now a prostitute desperate to get out of Berlin. He discovers that the driver he's assigned, a cheerful down-home sadist named Corporal Tully, is Lena's keeper. When the body of a murdered man washes up in Potsdam (within the Russian sector), Jake may be the only person who wants to solve the crime: U.S. personnel are busy finding Nazis to bring to trial, the Russians and the Americans are looking for German rocket scientists, and Lena has her own secrets.Written by
Steven Soderbergh initially considered shooting on a black & white film stock, but ended up using a color stock because it was required for the bluescreen effects of the driving scenes. (Black & white stocks were also slower and grainier than he would have liked.) The film was subsequently desaturated in the digital intermediate, and released on a black & white print stock. George Clooney had gone down the same path the previous year, with his film Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005). See more »
The newsreel speaker says the Potsdam conference takes place in "Emperor William's former palace". This is not correct. The Cecilienhof palace was built for the last crown prince of Germany, who lived there from 1917-19 and from 1926-45. See more »
I'm not sure about the answer to my question. With its stylistic nods to 40's noir thrillers like "Notorious", "The Third Man", "Gilda" and at the end, "Casablanca", "The Good German" aims high but ultimately falls flat under the weight of an incomprehensible plot peopled by too many characters. Moreover, none of said characters evinces any sympathy so that as the body-count mounts up towards the end and even as Clooney and Blanchett remain standing to take their relationship who knows where, ultimately you don't really care either way, distracted as you are by the various cinematic reference points - I even detected an in-joke at the expense of "The Pianist". The film is beautifully shot with many attractive framing and tracking shots in luminous monochrome, but the acting quality is distinctly mixed, with Clooney never quite achieving Joseph Cotten standards as he takes hits from almost everyone in sight and Blanchett struggling to emote beyond her sub-Deitrich accent. Tobey Maguire seems to me altogether too typecast in his winsome underdog parts ("Spider Man", "Sea Biscuit") to wholly convince as Clooney's somewhat callous, duplicitous driver who gets in too deep and you don't believe Blanchett's even thinly-veiled attraction to him either. I did enjoy the nostalgic tricks employed by Soderburgh, for example the left to right dissolves between scenes and the musical motifs which accompany the various characters but there are also too many shots of Clooney walking off-shot, or tossing away a cigarette or worst just gazing into space. All told, you'd be better off renting out one of the source movies mentioned above to see how it should be done.
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