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Good German, The


Stars: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, Jack Thompson, Leland Orser

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Director Soderbergh's avowed intention here was to make a modern version of a 1940s' film noir. But his movie is more of a mystery drama, set in Berlin just after the end of World War two.

Everybody beats up war correspondent Clooney there when he comes looking for an old flame Lena (Blanchett), even his cocky young driver (Maguire) who's into the black market as well as Lena. When Maguire ends up dead with a belt-full of money, it's clear (well, not very perhaps) that something is Going On.

The rest of the story, alas, is pretty uninteresting. Soderbergh would like this to be a latter-day Casablanca, but it's nowhere near. Clooney is nondescript, while Blanchett's attempts to cross Dietrich with Bergman expose unexpected limitations in her technique. Other performances are equally overpitched. And the photography is not so much as noir as simply dark.

Modern trimmings - lots of swearing, a bit of sex - merely jar against the attempted mood, while the plot is virtually unfathomable, even if you can raise enough interest to try to unravel it.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Black and white.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 03 Mar 2007