George Clooney’s latest film is quite a fiasco.
His attempt to adapt a nonfiction tale, about a team of men who rescued thousands of art masterpieces stolen by Nazis during the second world war and preserved them for the next generations, has definitely failed. The plot is flat and it lacks a real dramatic action, sacrificed for a dialogue, which is often banal, stereotyped and tedious, considering that eventually it is not supposed to be so much blabbing in a war film. The characters who form The Monuments Men are almost flawless, missing elements that could make them unforgettable or surprising, and unable to overcome the comical tones to reach a profound and emotional layer in their personalities. We have the heroic leader, a couple of clumsy art reviewers completely out of place in a war, and a lame museum director who acts without a clear and established goal for more than half a movie. All their figures seemto be with no verve at all, and to have been trapped in flattened roles that don’t make honour of the great actors casted in the film.
Apart from the comical episodes, where some gags are well written and funny, the story is predictable, and neither hooking nor fascinating. The script is a mixture of sequences taken from classical war movies and an overrated American patriotism depicted as moral and heroic, opposed to the pure evil carried out by the Germans. This logic of good opposed to evil is primitive and familiar for an audience who lives in 2014, and the Clooney’s Clark Gable look or his featureless speeches about the art and culture as the bricks of a civilisation, are even more irritating despite their genuine and noble intentions.
…The film is saddled with dead moments…
This being said, the film is still watchable even with all these clichés, repetitions and extremely weak narrative pace. The space left for the artistic masterpieces and the discussion about the general worth of the Monuments Men’s operation is very poor, and it shows that Clooney has decided to leave art behind. This was probably made in order to emphasise the actions of the Monuments Men (which are at once hard to follow), as well as their flabby behaviours and conversations. The film is saddled with dead moments and falls of tension that force it to oscillate continuously between noteworthy passages and standstill tailspins in the narration.
The final result is a pastiche of good purposes and expectations shadowed by a precarious script and a monotonous direction, which disappoint and sadden if we think that with this kind of story, Clooney and his crew could put much more effort than they actually did.