Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good (2008)

I recall an exchange between Simon Mayo and Jason Isaacs during an episode of 'Wittertainment' in which the latter argued passionately against the presenter's suggestion that the notion that a black uniform with silver skull badges could somehow creep up on you before you knew what was going on, was a premise with fundamental weaknesses.

Isaacs declared himself a labour voter, but added that this government had done so many things in his name that he would strongly object to, but these things remained beneath the surface of mainstream political debate to an extent that prevented them from delegitimising the overall programme of the party.

This seemed reasonable, even though it surely must have been harder to hide the raving loon of National Socialism in the confined space of a smart new VW Beetle.

But I'd just read The Berlin Diaries of Marie Vasiltchikov and there did appear to be a case to be made that decent, educated folk in Nazi Germany had no idea just how evil this regime was, perhaps even up to 1939.

But now I've seen the movie I can see what Simon Mayo was getting at. There may be an underlying political truth in Viggo Mortensen's highly mannered portrayal of the inept literary professor John Halder, but it's not a truth that sheds a great deal of light on the central fact that many 'good' Germans were taken in by the Nazis.

They can't all have been like John Halder, a man whose extreme ingenuousness loops back on itself and becomes an uncomfortable kind of disingenuousness.

The script seems dimly aware of this and so, has an indirect bash at blaming the whole lamentable situation on perfidious, all-too-easily led womanhood....before hinting that the men in jackboots were all struggling with issues of sexual adequacy.

Isaacs appears to want to be in a more heartfelt, edgier film but his performance is overwhelmed by the passivity of Mortensen's.

Grade: B (-)

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