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.



Reviews Counted: 150

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,667


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 2.9/5

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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.

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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
Ravil Isyanov
as Gen. Sikorsky
Dave Power
as Lieutenant Schaeffer
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 (46)

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

Mar 8, 2007 | Full Review…
Time Out
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…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

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

Dec 22, 2006 | Full Review…

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.

Kase Vollebregt
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.

Jens S.
Jens S.

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? SPOILER COMING 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.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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