Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Jason Isaacs, Jodie Whittaker, Mark Strong
Director: Vicente Amorim
It’s a shame about the somewhat ironic title of this film. Adapted from a highly acclaimed stage play of the same name by C.P. Taylor, Good was what I was hoping to write down as a comment, but not what was delivered in this earnest Viggo Mortensen drama about the rise of the Nazis in ’30s Germany.
Mortensen plays John Halder, a passive University literature professor with his head in the clouds. His reeling in by the Nazis begins with his mysterious summoning to the Reich, where he learns that the Nazis have become enthralled with a novel that he wrote years before. In it, Halder explores euthanasia in a fictitious situation that almost mirrors his own real-life circumstances. The idea appeals to the Nazis, who are looking for legitimate ways to get rid of the “weaker” elements of society. Halder is reluctant to join the Party, but is given an honorary rank, and before long he finds himself sucked into the machine with devastating emotional consequences.
Unfortunately this film seemed to be glued together with bits and pieces that weren’t working well independently in the first place. From wrongly pitched performances, an unoriginal script, bad direction, nothing hung together as a coherent whole. This film left me oddly dispassionate and detached, a rather strange result for a film about such an emotional subject. If this movie had been successful, there should not have been a dry eye in the house. Instead there was a veritable desert. To have no sympathy for the characters, who seemed merely in place as tokens of the wider idea but were not adequately fleshed out (for example, Jason Isaacs’ Jewish character, Halder’s friend), feels like a fairly major failing.
And what a shame that it was a waste of a platform for the talents of the wonderful Gemma Jones (who plays Halder’s terminally ill mother), who was by far the best thing in this movie.