The Monuments Men
Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman
Directed by George Clooney
Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking
Based on a true story, The Monuments Men tells the tale of a group of art historians who join forces with the U.S. military during WWII to rescue stolen pieces of art that Hitler had hidden throughout Germany.
When I first found out that this film was pushed back into February and would not be eligible for awards season, I was puzzled. After all, Clooney is a very good writer and director and the cast is one of the best ensembles a person could imagine. I immediately guessed that the film just wasn’t great. Unfortunately I was correct.
The story itself is fantastic. The men represented here are real life heroes and responsible for much of our lifetime of enjoyment we have had walking through museums both in America and abroad. What they did was vitally important and their contribution is worthy of more appreciation than we could ever show them.
If only their story were told better. I would place another guess that Clooney wanted to be as precise as possible with the actual events, and that meant not making up drama for drama’s sake. Sadly, this made the film fairly boring. None of the characters were deeply flawed, as would be expected in a compelling drama, and there was very little action aside from a couple of deaths from minor characters. Clooney tried to fix this with intelligent and pithy dialogue, but couldn’t quite manage to pull it off. The pacing is off, as is the film’s momentum. Also, I never felt any sort of empathy or connection with the men, aside from my desire to see them succeed in their mission.
I do think the script could have been better but aside from fictionalizing it more to add pizzaz and punch, I’m not sure I can provide the magic formula – but something is very apparently missing from the project. C+