Good - Movie Review

Source: The Vine

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Image Larry Horricks.
© Good Films.
 
As the saying goes, if you only see only one "Nazi going through a moral crisis" movie this year, make sure it's Good.

While this film will probably receive modest attention compared to its genre counterparts, The Reader and Valkyrie, it is vastly superior in its depiction of a liberal college professor who manages to climb the ranks of the SS. The film wisely sidesteps the bombastic melodrama of the aforementioned movies and benefits from an incredible performance from Viggo Mortensen, who continues to prove he is one of the most talented actors around.

Professor John Halder (Mortensen) considers himself a good person, as did the rest of his German compatriots during the 1930s. The dominance of the Nazi party and their increasing influence on all matters private is merely seen as an historical aberration that is openly mocked by his best friend and Jewish psychologist Maurice (Jason Issacs). When Halder's literary work is brought to the attention of Hitler himself, he witnesses his career blossom but each incremental step poses moral compromises that eventually lead to dire consequences.

The great:
Viggo Mortensen continues to display his brilliance in front of the camera with another chameleon turn in his representation of the shy and humble Halder. The gradual moral corruption is wonderfully and convincingly portrayed and the entire film would fail in the hands of a less capable thespian. Mortensen is truly a master of his art.

The good:
The story is compelling and thought provoking in its exploration of how a nation reached monstrous levels of insanity. Through the eyes of Halder, we witness the menial everyday decisions that led to an entire nation allowing one of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century to take place.

The not so great:
As the film was originally a stage play, it does become over reliant on the actors to instil it with energy. While this works well throughout, there are moments when the pace lags and jumps in time make some scenes emotionally distant.

The film at no point pardons the actions of men like Halder but looks to understand how enlightened individuals such as himself let such hideous acts take place. The moral dilemmas faced by the protagonist present questions for deep reflection as to the nature of evil and thanks to an amazing performance by Mortensen makes this process a highly entertaining one.
Last edited: 17 April 2009 15:06:14
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