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The Good German (2007)



Average Rating: 5/10
Reviews Counted: 147
Fresh: 48 | Rotten: 99

Though Steven Soderbergh succeeds in emulating the glossy look of 1940s noirs, The Good German ultimately ends up as a self-conscious exercise in style that forgets to develop compelling characters.


Average Rating: 5/10
Critic Reviews: 47
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 33

Though Steven Soderbergh succeeds in emulating the glossy look of 1940s noirs, The Good German ultimately ends up as a self-conscious exercise in style that forgets to develop compelling characters.



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Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 36,544

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Movie Info

"The Good German" takes place in the ruins of post-WWII Berlin, where U.S. Army war correspondent Jake Geismar becomes embroiled with Lena Brandt, a former lover who is trying to escape her past in the aftermath of the war. Intrigue mounts as Jake tries to uncover the secrets Lena may be hiding in her desperation to get out of Berlin. Tully, a soldier in the American army motor pool assigned to drive Jake around the city, has black market connections that may be Lena's way out--or lead them all


Drama, Romance, Mystery & Suspense

Paul Attanasio, Joseph Kanon

May 22, 2007


Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (153) | Top Critics (49) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (99) | DVD (21)

Why emphasise flaws in a film of such overall ambition and expertise?

March 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This cast almost makes The Good German watchable. It's just that their screenwriter and director don't do them any favors.

January 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a line between homage and mimicry, and Soderbergh has crossed it.

January 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We get no heroes, not even flawed ones. Clooney, our marquee man, chases through numbing plot contortions only because of his lust for Lena. By the time The Good German ended, I had barely a clue if the good ones had lived or died.

January 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Good German is a movie wonk's triumph and no one else's. Soderbergh gets the visuals right but not the clean storytelling line of classic cinema, nor the iconic characters or moral certainty of the oldies.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I have to admire an ostensibly nostalgic entertainment that so concertedly undermines the romanticism of wartime Hollywood.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An utterly gaseous film

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

A beautifully flawed experiment, "The Good German" is an entertaining if unbalanced war drama that places modern cinema mores on a classic style of American film when the Hayes code would never have allowed such overt sexual reality.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source:

The Good German is the bad movie. Except for the ambience -- the look of the film -- it stumbles awkwardly on every level.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Fayetteville Free Weekly
Fayetteville Free Weekly

No matter that it's based on a book, the movie is more about how the reality of the time was seen through the lens of a Michael Curtiz while he was filming "Casablanca".

May 2, 2008 Full Review Source: PopMatters

The final verdict on this movie is that for all its attempts to replicate the great movies of the 1940s, it fails miserably.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Murphy's Movie Reviews
Murphy's Movie Reviews

While admirable as an example of directorial innovation and homage, The Good German fails to connect on a basic emotional level.

May 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat
Aisle Seat

A homage to the romantic noir mysteries of the 1940s, a tribute that tries hard but, alas, misses the mark.

May 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Flat noir homage.

May 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Buddies Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney started out so well. But The Good German is so painful that their recent decision to go their separate ways really merits a gospel choir.

March 30, 2007 Full Review Source: thelondonpaper

It's Soderbergh's commitment and creativity that lift The Good German above many of its peers, no matter the era.

March 24, 2007 Full Review Source: UGO

It's an achievement so hermetic it hardly bothers to be a movie.

March 15, 2007 Full Review

It's "The Good German," but not "The Great German."

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

While the title raises the question of whether it is possible to escape atrocity without somehow being complicit with those committing them ... Soderbergh seems infinitely more interested in making an anachronism than a timeless film.

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

[The Good German is] technically astonishing and Blanchett is excellent, but the script is dull and the confusing plot fails to engage.

March 8, 2007 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

This should have been Soderbergh gold. Instead it is mostly unengaging and dull, proof positive that they don't make them like they used to.

March 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A film that feels more like a cinematographer's showreel than an involving drama: flashy, but heartless.

March 6, 2007 Full Review Source:

The lot of it is pseudonoir.

March 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Modern sensibilities crash against period style...

March 2, 2007 Full Review

Steven Soderbergh massages his fond memories of the golden (if sometimes black and white) days of movies with a noirish sensibility.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for The Good German

Soderbergh's visuals are intriguing in this WWII drama, but the story is anything but. Clooney's charisma proves not enough to make the film interesting.
April 9, 2013
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

Director Steven Soderbergh's homage to 1940s film noir cinema stays true to the filming methods used back in the day: the camera work, lighting, music, everything. That's a little strange at first, but you gotta admire the tenacity with which this is pulled through from the beginning to the end. As for the plot, it starts out slowly and with what seems to be a rather unlikable character. 20 minutes in a rather unexpected death gets things moving and the film gets more interesting with every minute from then on. Overall, we go through three narrators as we switch perspectives throughout the plot. The acting is great, especially Cate Blanchett seems to have emerged right from that era of cinema. There's even the Casablanca homage in the end. An interesting, even if not overwhelming experience that's pretty entertaining and well done.
April 8, 2012

Super Reviewer

In the end, on an airstrip in the rain, it became clear what Soderbergh thought he was doing: making a new Casablanca. And while the "zigzag plot" praised in the film's promotional copy shares this with the classic, no other elements are even comparable. Tobey Maguire is completely miscast, and the film suffers, I think, from a point-of-view problem. Cate Blanchett's character, Lena, is by far the most interesting, and has the most to contribute to the story... so why does the film present itself as being "about" the journalist George Clooney plays?


The film would have been much more successful had we worked from Lena's point of view. Show us first that Brandt is still allive, then watch her mislead us and the journalist until the end. If she is truly the "good German," then make her the hero.

As it is, though, this film is a stinker. The new black-and-white footage was well-yoked to the old newsreel stuff, but that's the nicest thing I can say about it. A lot more than an old-timey score is needed to create tension; primarily, emplotment. This movie just didn't have it, and as a result, Soderbergh's experiment in noir is a colossal failure, and for lack of a better word, flat-out boring.
January 30, 2012

Super Reviewer

A serviceman investigates the death of a smuggler who was having an affair with his ex-girlfriend.
The story of this film is such a classic noir that all its twists and turns are predictable, bordering on cliche, and director Steven Soderbergh is clearly paying homage to the directors of the early forties, particularly Michael Curtiz. But there's a line where homage meets cliche, and at its few good points -- usually involving a perfectly framed shot of Cate Blanchett in black and white or George Clooney's badly written but well delivered voice over -- The Good German rests on the homage side, but it lives in cliche.
The Good German experiment, which is what it seems, makes me wonder if classics are classics because they have a style that one can imitate or if they attain classic status by being perfect expressions of their times. After watching Soderbergh's attempt to cherry pick style of the two options, I have to think that classics are not inimitable, to be appreciated but not duplicated.
Overall, I found The Good German interesting only on a theoretical level, but we can talk about film theory without wasting time on this movie.
November 10, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Movies Like The Good German

    1. Lena Brandt: He's a good German.
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (18 months ago)
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