Sunday, May 11, 2014

Film Review: The Monuments Men

Copyright: 20th Century Fox
This wasn't the way to make a war film, or any other kind of film. The Monuments Men just doesn’t know how to connect the audience with its characters or its topic, although George Clooney tries desperately to do this. But, he does it by the old Hollywood playbook, first by introducing a merry band of men that are to form an Allied unit in the last stage of the 2.

World war, tasked with the protection of cultural treasures of Western Europe. Then Clooney, playing the lead character and directing at the same time (when you’re good looking you can do anything), further develops his Dirty Dozen Artists and Museum Curators, giving us the French guy, the Matt Damon guy, the Funny guy and the Cynical guy to somehow bind us to them.

This doesn’t work. There are too many of them, and it doesn’t matter that Bill Murray and John Goodman play them, they aren’t relevant enough to become important. Even worse, Clooney sends some of them to a secret mission in the German occupied France, and naturally this adds to the incoherence of the film.

Throughout the movie there is this sense of following the real history (Monuments Men did really exist in the WW2), and using things that belong in a mediocre war film from the seventies. The soundtrack includes a lot of whistling, everybody is more than enthusiastic to go into the front lines (even those who are fat and/or old) and the Soviets seem a little bit like Nazis 2.0.

Also, I have a feeling that at a three-man team took care of Clooney’s mustache, and that this part of the superstar’s facial hair probably had a nickname like The Champ. Small adventures, some tragic, other heartwarming or funny, continue while the Monuments Men are on the trail of a big art loot that was taken by the retreating Germans.

The film drags on in this fashion. The script wasn’t convincing enough to make me truly care about any of the art that is present in the film. Instead of focusing on one piece, things like the Ghent Altarpiece or Madonna of Bruges get thrown in, and soon the number of art pieces is as big as the cast. Add to this the idea that millions were killed in the same time, and it’s pretty hard to be emotionally invested in paintings, even with a powerful speech on this topic delivered by Clooney and his spectacular mustache in the beginning of the film.

The whole topic was better suited for a documentary film. Instead, the result is a dramatization on a large budget that produces almost no emotional investment. Let’s just hope that Clooney doesn’t shave off his glorious mustache, because in that case, the whole Monuments Men project would be in vain.