Clooney can't rescue this work of art
The Monuments Men. Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett; directed by George Clooney
Set during the later years of World War II, George Clooney's latest film tells the tale of an unlikely group of men sent to retrieve significant pieces of art with the aim of returning each piece to their owners.
Clooney - of course - leads the group as Frank Stokes, assisted by his second in command, James Granger, played by Matt Damon. As expected, there is nothing extraordinary about their performances; both seem to have settled into a certain type of role, Clooney in particular.
Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), John Goodman (Roseanne), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Jean Dujardin (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Bob Balaban (Seinfeld) round out the team, along with Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) who, unsurprisingly, delivers the strongest performance.
Even though it features some big names, there is nothing incredible about this film. Sure, it is a remarkable story, one of great achievement, and one that should be told. However, it falls flat. The few moving moments were absorbed into a film filled with Clooney's smarminess, uninspiring monologues and uncomfortable and unnecessary humour.
The score is incredibly emotive, but in a forced and distracting way. There may as well have been people at the front of the cinema with cue cards saying "right, now audiences, you need to feel sad during this scene" and "now you must feel anxious and tense".
As I'm not a World War II buff or an authority on art history, I cannot comment to the historical accuracy of this film.
However, I am making assumptions, that as a "Hollywood" film, changes have been made in an attempt to sell the story to a wider audience.
Monuments Men comes across as a caper film set against World War II, instead of the important historical piece of cinema it should have been.
If Clooney was determined to bring this story to theatres, he instead should have made an entirely dramatic film (without the pieces of comic relief), or even better, produced a documentary presenting hard facts without the Hollywood gloss. I will be attempting to forget this movie and retreating to the book to read about the real story.
The Southland Times