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The Good German

If war is hell then what comes after? 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (Wide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Good German

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, Cate Blanchett

The Good German is more of an experiment than a film. But it loses none of its movie magic. Steven Soderbergh has not merely made an espionage thriller, but he has made a masterpiece only using the equipment filmmakers in the 1940s would have had access to. No zoom, no boom mikes hanging over the actors and hardly any computer graphics. If he could have raised Bogart and Bergman from the dead he would have done, I’m sure. As such, Soderbergh did the next best thing and hired George Clooney, who exudes the timeless movie star look.

Based on the novel by Joseph Kanon, The Good German takes place in the ruins of post-WWII Berlin, where U.S. Army war correspondent Jake Geismar (Clooney) becomes embroiled with Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett), a former lover whose missing husband is the object of a manhunt by both the American and Russian armies. Intrigue mounts as Jake tries to uncover the secrets Lena may be hiding in her desperation to get herself and her husband out of Berlin. Tully (Tobey Maguire), a soldier in the American army motor pool assigned to drive Jake around Berlin, has black market connections that may be Lena's way out – or lead them all into even darker territory.

The Good German is a different kind of movie. It's in black and white. Its pace is slower than most films. It doesn't give away secrets. And it's not edited to within an inch of its life. 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. George Clooney is excellent. Add Tobey Maguire to the mix with a black heart that belies his baby face and you’ve got a cast of high calibre.

Praises go to cinematographer Peter Andrews and editor Mary Ann Bernard, as well as Soderbergh himself. No person who calls themselves a fan of cinema will want to miss this – it’s more like the biggest hit of 1948 than 2006. Recommended.

Victoria Galloway

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Summer Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Summer Term (35mm)