Here is a film that has the hard task of making us vibrate with the rescue of great artistic works of our heritage stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Right away, the positive point of the movie is that it has the merit of informing us about the unknown facts of our History. That is for the topic of the film… Regarding the treatment of the story, the film has many weaknesses.
Firstly, it is very difficult to deal with a story that has many characters in different places. We are quickly lost and it gets hard to follow. Above all, it really lacks of dramatic tension. At the end of the film, there is a little suspense but it is the only time in the whole movie where we actually begin to care. The film is supposed to be a tribute to action movies of the 60s with a mix of group of friends, humor and action. Here, the result is rather hybrid. Most of the scenes are almost comical so it’s hard to get on board with the matter of the story, even when some people on screen die. Also, there is no action scene. At the beginning, the story is more focused on the characters and then more on the common goal but will no depth in both cases. All this is punctuated by grand speeches by the leader of the group (George Clooney’s character) and American patriotism.
Regarding the directing part, one can see that there are a lot of efforts made with the creative shots like a low angle shot of George Clooney with Matt Damon just in front of the camera (it is in the trailer). Moreover, an effort is made with the transitions as once again, it is complicated to connect the different places together or a plan sequence where you follow Cate Blanchett in the corridors of the museum travelling, camera placed behind the walls she crosses.
As for the casting, needlessly to say that we have here a whole host of very good actors not necessarily well “used”. First of all, Hugh Bonneville (” Downtown Abbey “) and John Goodman have a really thin role and Jean Dujardin, who does not issue demerit concerning charisma, doesn’t get a role beyond the “French guy” that provides movies a good rank at the French Box-office. Bill Murray delights just by his presence and Bob Balaban used to supporting roles, gets here a little more space to express his talent. However, Cate Blanchett’s character is very strange because she is supposed to be French and she actually seems German to me (being French myself I find it hard to believe her accent …). George Clooney plays the quiet force, true to himself, idealist with a certain “à la cool” nonchalance.
Music by Alexandre Desplat (who makes a cameo in the film) is uneven. The “cheerful” theme of the Monuments Men reminds us of the films of the 60s and adds style to the film. In contrast, the “sad” melodies are really too mushy (combined with monologues of Clooney, it gets really heavy).
In short, this is a movie that deals with a beautiful subject but fails to embark us. At least, you can go see the movie for the humor and great actors but you are being warned: not for much more.