Max Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 21, 2011
An art critic attempts to encourage a disturbing young man's art and dissuade him from pursuing political aspirations ... oh, and the young man is Hitler.
A colleague recommended I see this film because, in his words, "People criticized it for humanizing Hitler, but I thought that was one of its strengths." His point is that we so often dichotomize, see historical and political differences in clear terms of good and evil: the bad guys have the red light sabers and the good guys have the blue or green ones. His point, and I would argue the film's point, is that human beings, even the most depraved ones, are motivated by a myriad of influences, and dichotomies, by definition, are reductive.
The film presents Hitler in no gentle terms. He never smiles, but when you glimpse his teeth, they are nothing to behold, gray and misshapen. He screams a lot. He's remarkably insecure. The roots of his antisemitism are presented in no uncertain terms. He makes everyone around him uneasy. In the end, I would argue that the film didn't humanize him enough because the character, aside from his insecurity, is just as unlikable and impossible to identify with as you would expect. I'm not proposing that Hitler be portrayed in positive terms, quite the opposite. What I'm writing is this: here is a man who rose to power because something he said connected with people; he also was married. A humanizing portrait of him would get to the root of what his supporters saw in him even as we can whole-heartedly reject his ideology.
But it's a noble, risky, and controversial proposition to begin with, and I think it's admirable for Max to attempt to make us see the world in less myopic terms.
John Cusack is great as the Jewish art critic who attempts to take Hitler under his wing. The direction by Menno Meyjes is also quite strong, able to convey character and story in some single, beautifully framed shots.
Overall, Max is not a great film, but it's an interesting conversation-starter; questions like "Is our historical understanding narrow?" or "Is this film's attempt immoral/unethical?" are worth asking.
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2009
Interesting but not great story about how Adolf Hitler's failed art career may have intercected with, and possibly actually inspired, his political career.

This film is in the style of Gods and Monsters, whereby a actual historiical figure's life is placed into a fictional setting as a means of trying to discover "what happened." John Cusack plays a fictional Jewish art dealer named Max Rothman who meets a 30-year old Hitler (Noah Taylor) in 1918, right after The Great War. Rothman is aware of Hitler's Anti-Semitism, but sees it as a source of artist inspiration rather than a actual threat. Rothman tries to convince Hitler to channel his rage into his paintings. In the process, the young Hitler discovers his true calling.

Cusack, who I normally adore, got good reviews for his potrayal here, but I just couldn't take him seriously as this haughty, somewhat pretentious art dealer. I guess I'm too used to him as Mr. Everyman. I guess the subplot of Rothman's love triangle between himself, his wife and his mistress fit in somewhere, but I found it unnecessary. Noah Taylor, while pulling off the passion of Hitler OK, seemed more to me as a Sid Vicious "sex, drugs and rock n roll" type rather than future leader of the Fatherland.

On the good side, the film looks great. The set design and costumes were excellent and believable, especially the abandoned train station where Rothman had his art gallery. And the edited-together scenes of Hitler giving a rabid speech about Jew and "pure blood" with Rothman and his family during a Jewish religious service were interesting.

The first few minutes of this film set up a mood for me that made me anticipate more than the film ultimately delivered. I may give Max another chance one day to see if I feel differently, but for now it's "good try but no cigar."
Super Reviewer
½ January 23, 2010
Cusack plays a Jewish art dealer who takes a young artist under his wing, by the name of Adolf Hitler. A compelling watch.
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2007
This is a fascinating look at rarely treaded territory...a chapter in the life of Adolf Hitler before his rise to power and European domination. This film focuses on a 30-year-old Hitler who has ambitions to become a successful artist, and is then taken under the arms of an amputee art dealer (played well by John Cusack), who befriends the socially awkward and ambitious Hitler as he develops his twisted political philosophies.

Some might be turned off by this movie because it really puts a human perspective on Hitler that many might be uncomfortable with, since people tend to think of him as this iconic monster with no humanity at all. But this film doesn't make any excuses for Hitler, it simply helps to show how such evil can be brewed up in someone, and puts his life in a historical and human perspective that is really quite interesting. It shows how both his experience in WWI, and his ambitions as an artist really echoed into his personality as a ruthless totalitarian.

Cusack plays a Jewish WWI veteran who has his own flaws, but at his core is a loving father and husband. The contrast between his personality, a genuinely kind-hearted working man, and Hitler's (Noah Taylor) is the most interesting aspect of the movie.

The film wasn't without its flaws. For one, I don't think it gave credit to how smart Hitler was. It portrays him as more of an emotional and insecure wreck, but it was Hitler's cunning and persuasiveness that really rocketed him to power. He was an intelligent and smooth talker, but it's hard to see those aspects in Taylor's portrayal of him. I also wasn't a fan of the ending, it was a bit anti-climactic.

But this film is definitely worth watching. Hitler is indeed a prime example of evil in human form, but regardless of that notion, the fact is that he is probably the most interesting historical figure of all time, and this story puts him in context with the rest of humanity and history, ultimately adding up to a very intriguing film.
½ February 11, 2010
Way too talky, downright boring at times. The acting is good but it?s a hard film to sit through without yawning a few times along the way. The period detail is adequate, but not very impressive. Decent costume design and art direction. Slow moving.
February 24, 2008
This thought-provoking movie is clearly a surprise and should have got alot more attention then it did given its unique take on a very dark figure of world history.
It really delves into the human side of Hitler (played brilliantly by Noah Taylor) showing a lonely conflicted individual looking for acceptance rather than absolute power, but the movie does a good job of sustaining his very dark nature aswell portraying him as a very socially inept, angry anti-semitic on the cusp of complete evil which is the Hitler the world has come to know.
½ July 13, 2008
Fascinating film, with a great cast. I think the idea of insisting that Hitler be seen only as 'evil' is hysterical and nonsensical. After all, it is the fact that Hitler was human and the idea that people are capable of such horror that makes people so quick to other him. Things like that happen when people don't study history and don't take power-hungry populist leaders seriously. Thought-provoking film, not as good at looking at history, but good at showing Hitler in a context that prevents people from casting him as some kind of demon from cradle to grave, thus DENYING the fact that there were circumstances that allowed someone as pathetic as him to have so much power. In terms of Hitler movies, this one is going in the right direction
February 24, 2008
Fantastic movie- very well written, great, great acting... deep and dark story... fantastic. It could have been in German... that is the only thing that was wrong with this movie. It was brilliant. I'd say one of the most overlooked movies in the past few years.
October 25, 2007
Here is an interesting movie. Not a true account. This movie was created by what people in the film industry sometimes call, "Imagination". Noah Taylor played a fantastic depiction of Hitler.
½ September 1, 2007
Proposed story of Hitler's youth as a struggling artist. Pretty weird, but I guess it kinda had to be.
½ July 10, 2007
A little known gem that demands a viewing. Even if it's an "what if" scenario, it's still an interesting premise. Though make no mistake, Noah Taylor's portrayal of the young Adolf Hitler was both poingnant and downright chilling. Don't also forget that this movie is NOT attempting to make Hitler seem human or likable. It's an opinion that the Holocaust might've been avoided IF certain things would have happened before hand. A fantastic movie. I was quite moved.
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2007
Maybe my second John Cusak flick & now I cannot get enough! What Talent! I am not going to tell you the subect matter! JUST WATCH IT~~ What talent thse 2 actors have (Cusak and Noah Taylor)!!! ARTISTS (Post WW I)
February 8, 2007
A very big surprise for me, I mean, any movie about Adolf Hitler is not going to find a huge audience. For me, this is a very real portrayal of how someone can go from depressed to a sinister madman.Very Good Movie.
September 12, 2006
John Cusack in his best role to date. He plays an art gallery owner who served in WW1 and lost his arm in the process. One day a young Adolf Hitler comes into his life and Max tries to get him to be an artist since Adolf has a great ability to paint realistic portaits and when he goes really deep into himself and his art he's amazing (all true)... sadly the night adolf was to meet max to talk about his art and make a career... well... i dont' want to ruin it... but i makes you cry.
January 17, 2014
Beautiful and chilling at the same time.
June 27, 2013
Powerful film with one of the most hauntingly memorable endings that I've ever seen.
January 5, 2013
a great and memorable movie
½ July 31, 2007
Very unappealing subject matter.
½ April 28, 2012
An intelligent and utterly compelling hypothetical question in which scholarly musings and dramatic irony come together to create a powerful, thought-provoking experience.
October 27, 2010
get over the fact that Cusack cant speak with a german accent or any accent for that matter and you'll enjoy this move. Even without the accent Cusack gives a great performance along with the rest of the cast. Great ending as well!
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