The Good German


The Good German

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 150


Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,668
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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 into even darker territory.


George Clooney
as Jake Geismer
Cate Blanchett
as Lena Brandt
Beau Bridges
as Col. Muller
Jack Thompson
as Congressman Breimer
Leland Orser
as Bernie Teitel
Robin Weigert
as Hannelore
Christian Oliver
as Emile Brandt
Don Pugsley
as Gunther
Dave Power
as Lieutenant Schaeffer
Ravil Isyanov
as Gen. Sikorsky
John Roeder
as General
J. Paul Boehmer
as British Press Aide
Igor Korosec
as Russian Soldier
Boris Kievsky
as Russian Soldier
Vladimir Kulikov
as Russian Soldier
Yevgeniy Narovlyanskiy
as Russian Soldier
Aleksandr Sountsov
as Russian Soldier
Dean Misch
as German Boy
Justin Misch
as German Boy
Justin Pugsley
as German Boy
Tom Cummins
as British Interviewer
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News & Interviews for The Good German

Critic Reviews for The Good German

All Critics (150) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (49) | Rotten (101)

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

    Mar 8, 2007 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

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

    Mar 6, 2007 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

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

    Jan 19, 2007 | Rating: 2/5
  • There's a line between homage and mimicry, and Soderbergh has crossed it.

    Jan 19, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 19, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Dec 22, 2006 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Good German

  • Feb 21, 2016
    Should have been called the useless American. How many times can one guy get put on his ass? How did he get so far in the army? Did he skip basic training? All the characters were generically unlikeable so it was impossible to empathise with their plight. The best bit was Clooneys character telling an annoying prostitute to take a couple of hours off which I interpreted to be an intention at saving other men from her boring and scornful jealous babble. And the less said about Tobey Maguires acting the better. However it wasn't all bad. As the film droned on and by the time it's almost over a strong theme of survival emerges as the motivation for the female lead. Blanchett and Clooney carry the film...clearly! Without them it would've been palpable expletive. Plus the way Steven Soderbergh filmed WAS intriguing.
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2013
    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.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Feb 29, 2012
    Maybe Steven Soderbergh's 2006 film, The Good German, was simply destined to fail. At least from a financial standpoint. During his press junket for his dark comedy, The Informant!, he would make a very interesting admission. When talking about the experience of having to deal with the critical and commercial failure of The Good German, he would say that the film really didn't make business sense. "In retrospect....the idea" that people would be interested in this question: if the production hadn't existed in 1945, what sort of movies would be made? As he put it only about 5 people were really interested by that concept. "I have to be more sensitive to the accessibility of an idea...I wouldn't make the mistake of spending thirty million dollars on such a weird idea." From a financial standpoint, filmmakers always have to think about box office. As much as the renegade types love to trash the hollywood system, one has to realize that moviemaking is a business. If the executives at Paramount, or Fox or wherever don't believe that your idea is profitable you won't be making any movies. And you certainly be if you aren't responsible. That means you shouldn't spend 30-50 million on an idea that only a select few would pay money to see. So in a sense they have to play by the studio rules. If can find a way to spend only 10 or even 5 million, then you have room to experiment, because no one is likely to get hurt on such a small budget. And once in a while something that small will catch on. That little film that may seemed like an odd idea, may end up making a 100 million, which obviously a huge profit, as with the case of The Artist. Then why did something like the Good German fail, and The Artist succeed? Though I can't speak as to the merits of the Artist, since I haven't seen it, I can say that The Good German is a noble but failed experiment in the Soderbergh canon. He certainly gets the look and feel of the 40's American cinema down to a T, but the film just doesn't resonate on an emotional level like it so desperately wants to. George Clooney and Cate Blankett give fine performances, and the score by Thomas Newman is quite good, but it just doesn't to all mesh together. That emotional core that made films like Casablanca, an obvious reference point, such classics seems to be lost among the aesthetic experimentation and war time intrigue. As important as it is for filmmakers to play by the system's rule, one can't say that you shouldn't buck the suits when they have a bad idea, but it pays to be responsible. It's prudent to finish underbudget and on or ahead of schedule . That's a good formula for a long and successful career. Any good filmmaker can easily tarnish his reputation to the point were the studios won't want to work with you, and no one is immune to that danger. Even Steven Speilberg, the king of modern Hollywood, had put himself into that danger zone with his 1979 disaster, 1941, a film that came in way over budget and a bit of a flop by Speilberg standards, both commercially and critically. But there is always and oppurtunity to be had with kinds of experiences. The good filmmakers will learn from their experiences and move on to better days. In the case of Speilberg, following 1941 would come Raiders of the Lost Ark, and a renewed reputation as hollywood's top filmmakers. And he was Mr. on time and underbudget. Soderbergh would also go on to do much better work wth The Informant, Che and Contagion. It just took a bit of humble pie to get there. The relationship between filmmaker and studio should be one of mutual respect. And as much as the suits should allow the auteurs to make the films they want, the directors should also recognize that they have to be accountable and show some business smarts.
    Brandon S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 10, 2011
    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 -- <i>The Good German</i> rests on the homage side, but it lives in cliche. <i>The Good German</i> 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 <i>The Good German</i> interesting only on a theoretical level, but we can talk about film theory without wasting time on this movie.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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