.

The Good German

George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Robin Weigert, Dave Power

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
November 21, 2006

OK, it's more of an experiment than a movie. But why deny the magic? Director Steven Soderbergh hasn't merely made an espionage thriller set in post-World War II Berlin, he's shot it in black-and-white using only equipment available to Hollywood directors in the 1940s. That means fixed lenses (no zoom), boom mikes hanging over the actors' heads (no wireless) and hardly any computer graphics. Soderbergh couldn't bring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman back from the dead, but he did the next best thing. He hired George Clooney, who exudes a timeless star quality and plays it hard and achingly romantic as Jake Geismar, an Army war correspondent. Then there's Cate Blanchett, who plays it achingly bitter as Lena Brandt, Jake's ex-lover, who will put a price on her body and her conscience to get out of Berlin.

Add Tobey Maguire to the mix as Tully, a motor-pool soldier with connections in the black market and a black heart that belies his baby face. No fair giving away too much about a movie that prizes its aura of mystery. But Paul Attanasio has adapted the novel by Joseph Kanon to evoke 1940s classics such as The Third Man and Casablanca with a skeptical modern squint. In short, the movie works on its own, with a gleam of seductive corruption that doesn't allow for a happy ending. The actors all come up aces, especially Blanchett, who catches the deadpan glamour of Marlene Dietrich and a deadly allure strong enough to lead men to their doom. Still, this is Soderbergh's show, and a haunting and hypnotic show it is. I'd also praise cinematographer Peter Andrews and editor Mary Ann Bernard, except those are just names Soderbergh made up to hide behind. No true student of cinema will want to miss his ride back to the future. It's pure moviegoing bliss.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com