Strathclyde Telegraph

Review: The Monuments Men

Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett
★★★

 

by Hayley Skinner

The Monuments Men has everything a great film needs to succeed: a serious topic centred around the war, teamed with a stellar cast. Something was lacking, however, in George Clooney’s true story in which seven men attempt to retrieve stolen pieces of art and sculptures from the Germans during World War II.

The film begins with George Clooney somewhat returning to his role Danny Ocean as he attempts to form ‘The Monuments Men’. Matt Damon’s inclusion doesn’t help comparisons to the ‘Oceans’ trilogy as they put together a crack team of talented – albeit slightly old – experts in their individual fields. From this point on, Clooney seems intent on spoon-feeding the audience his hard hitting message as he continuously asks the question; ‘Is a piece of art worth a man’s life?’

The film itself ends up with seven main characters and we are left caring about none of them. Don’t get me wrong, we want them to succeed in their selfless mission, but their individual back stories are uninteresting underdeveloped. Bill Murray’s and Bob Balaban’s unlikely friendship provides humour throughout: there are jokes during the film which will give you a laugh. The characters’ over-the-top clichéd nationalities bring humour but not necessarily in a good way.

Clooney seems to take the film down a semi-serious path using humour and drama intertwined cleverly until about halfway through. We reach a touching moment in which a sombre version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ is played over scenes displaying the dramatic nature of war as a young boy dies on the medical table and Murray‘s character receives his parcel from home. It is this which leaves the audience confused about how to view the film as a whole. Is it a drama or a comedy? Clooney doesn’t seem to address this dilemma of genre which leaves the film languishing in no man’s land.

Although this film is by no means a – ahem – masterpiece, it still has redeeming qualities that warrants the three stars awarded to it. The actors are all fantastic and although they haven’t really been given the chance to shine they each play their part well. Cate Blanchett in any film is a bonus and although her character – a French art enthusiast besotted with Matt Damon – is a bit lacklustre, she portrays her well and almost has you feeling sorry for her as Damon turns down her advances.

While the film doesn’t live up to its source material or fantastic talent, it is worth seeing for fans of art and history. It documents a previously unknown part of the war and our own history and although it can be deemed slightly disappointing the comedy and drama within The Monuments Men will keep you entertained.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);