The Good German (R)

Drama 108 January 19, 2007
By J. Hoberman
Directed by Steven Soderbergh from Joseph Kanon's best-seller, The Good German is as much simulation as movie. Specifically, it's the simulation of a 1940s private eye flick. Filmed in hyper black-and-white, this is an old-school urban thriller played out amid the still-smoldering ruins of postwar Berlin, rather than the back alleys of downtown L.A. Set against the backdrop of the Potsdam conference, the film imagines George Clooney as a foreign correspondent (for The New Republic, no less). In Berlin for the confab, he is immediately assigned the sleaziest driver in the U.S. Army (Tobey Maguire), a twerp who, it turns out, is pimping Cate Blanchett, the married woman Clooney had loved when last in town and for whom he still carries a major torch. It's good news for the plot when Clooney wanders over to the Russian zone in time to see the corpse of an American GI pulled out of the river. Trying to get to the bottom of the murder, he's punched out by Russians, Americans, Germans, and even Maguire. However flavorsome, though, The Good German is seriously deficient in the stars' star power and narrative excitement. The movie is lovingly framed, carefully lit, and fatally insipid.
Steven Soderbergh George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Robin Weigert, Dave Power, Leland Orser, Tony Curran, Dominic Comperatore Paul Attanasio, Joseph Kanon Ben Cosgrove, Gregory Jacobs, Steven Soderbergh Warner Bros. Pictures

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