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Review byMatthew Turner15/04/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Watchable Nazi drama that falls short of delivering on its intriguing premise, while the strong performances aren't quite enough to compensate for the lack of emotional impact and the occasional dodgy moment.

What's it all about?
Based on the play by C. P. Taylor, Good stars Viggo Mortensen as John Halder, a literature professor in 1930s Germany who's invited to draft a paper for the Nazi Party that sets out the case for euthanasia, based on a book he once wrote that was drawn from his experience of living with his mother's dementia. Dismissing Hitler as a fad, Halder nonetheless accepts the offer and finds himself inexorably drawn into the Nazi party as a result.

Meanwhile, Halder leaves his wife (Anastasia Hille) for one of his students, a young Aryan woman called Anne (Jodie Whittaker), and begins a new life with her. At the same time, he attempts to help his Jewish friend Maurice (Jason Isaacs) when his life becomes increasingly difficult.

The Good
Mortensen is fine as Halder, allowing the emotional reticence of his screen persona to do much of the work. There's also strong support from Jodie Whittaker, while Isaacs is superb as Maurice and the film really comes alive when he's on screen.

The Bad
The problem is that the film fails to deliver on its intriguing premise. It should put you in a position where you are forced to identify with Halder so that you understand the decisions he makes, but that never really happens. Worse, it occasionally backfires, with a delayed reveal of Halder in the iconic uniform that teeters into 'Whoops, I Just Joined The Nazi Party' territory.

The film also features some dodgy moments where extras burst into song, suggesting that director Vicente Amorim is rather too in love with the work of Dennis Potter. In addition, the film is curiously lacking in emotional impact, perhaps because the fate of the one character we really care about is handled offscreen.

Worth seeing?
Despite strong performances and decent production design, Good lacks the emotional weight it needs to deliver the requisite punch. Disappointing.

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Content updated: 13/11/2019 08:08

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