The Monuments Men (Sony/Columbia)
Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.
Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnányi.
Written by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter.
Directed by George Clooney.
George Clooney co-writes the script, directs and stars in The Monuments Men – the (somewhat) true story of the soldiers who worked tirelessly to recover vast amounts of historic arts and treasures plundered by Hitler during WWII.
Clooney stars as George Stout, a man commissioned as leader of “The Monuments Men” the military branch given stewardship over Europe’s art. Stout pulls together a group of middle-aged art nerds - including museum curator James Rorimer (Matt Damon), architect Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman) and French artist Lt. Jean-Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin). Art specialists Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and British Major Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) round out the primary leaders of the group.
As the war draws to a close, Stout scrambles the team across Belgium, France, Austria and Germany in a race to recover the stolen artifacts before the Allies destroy them in the regular rigors of war – or the Nazis destroy them out of spite or retribution. Rorimer also enlists the help of Rose Valland (Cate Blanchett), a French curator - to help track the Nazis art theft.
The men encounter enemy troops and Russians during their race, leading to great danger for themselves and the art.
The Monuments Men is a disappointment on many levels. It seems Clooney went to a lot of trouble to tell a relatively forgotten part of WWII history, but forgot to make it interesting, mildly amusing or at the very least exciting. I don’t know if Clooney is to blame, but the story of art retrieval doesn't sound very interesting except from a documentary point of view.
The talent of heavyweights like Clooney, Damon, Blanchett, Murray, Goodman and DuJardin seem wasted on vapid script that can’t decide whether The Monuments Men is a comedy, drama – or something in between.
Despite a few good moments, The Monuments Men unfortunately won’t go down in history as a cinematic work of art.
To see what Clipper Associate Editor Jenniffer Wardell thought of The Monuments Men, click here for her review.