- Steven Soderbergh
- George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, Tony Curran, Jack Thompson
- 109 min.
- Release Date
The Good German is among Steven Soderbergh’s most daring experiments, though it’s not altogether a successful one. The artistic question driving the production is this: What would it look like if the Hays Code had not restricted a classical Hollywood production? Could the formal techniques from the 1940s be used to explore the grim reality, compromised morality, brutal violence, and sexuality of postwar Berlin? “It will be interesting to see if people can wrap their minds around the blending of these two ideas,” Soderbergh said in press notes. Although each element of The Good German’s presentation recalls visual, audio, and narrative components used in 1940s films set during and after the war—specifically Casablanca (1942), A Foreign Affair (1948), and The Third Man (1949)—the material features subject matter that feels inappropriate for films made in that style, especially for audiences versed in the moral guidelines of classical Hollywood cinema. But while The Good German maintains Soderbergh’s interest in stories about the human cost of social injustice and corrupt institutions, his aesthetic gamble doesn’t always pay off as well as it should have dramatically. The resulting pastiche is an admirable, at times ungainly, yet always compelling film that must be admired for existing at all.
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