The Monuments Men

A monumental (heh! Couldn't help it) failure. Despite having a fascinating slice of history as its basis, and lots of star wattages, this George Clooney directed comedy-drama is a poorly written history textbook coming alive. A meandering, barely coherent mess, strung along by a weak - thinner than paper - excuse for a plot/narrative, a bare iota, or even less, of characterisation and unbalanced, bordering on schizophrenia, directing. I have never felt like walking out of a cinema in a long time. Not to say there were not any bright sparks, but they were too brief and far in between, mainly courtesy of Bill Murray and Bob Balaban.

I applaud Clooney for attempting to present this really intriguing piece of history to the general public in a comedic manner, however, his balancing between the dramatic moments and the lighthearted comedy was just totally off. Bordering on jarring and inappropriate. The tonal shifts were abrupt with drama vying with comedy for the spotlight. Thankfully, he had casted comedic geniuses in the roles which really helped sell the comedy, and it was also Murray which gave the one and only heartfelt scene. There were also too many plot holes, empty spaces between scenes - scenes just do not connect.

The stars were mostly paired off throughout the movie, and some pairing worked and some just did not. As mentioned Murray and Balaban were the clear scene-stealers; John Goodman and Jean Dujardin had some sparks, but their scenes were severely short-changed; Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett had no chemistry at all; Blanchett's French demeanour and her French accent were too distracting (over-acting on purpose as directed, or just a bad french accent?); Clooney is really not that great an actor, period.

Even the score, by the ever-reliable Alexandre Desplat was as schizophrenic as the directing. And that resulted in a fairly distracting score. Although the main theme, as heard over the end credits, was fabulous and distinctively Desplat, as it peppered throughout the film, it just sounded disjointed amidst its sounds of hope, wonder, adventure and discovery.

I have not not liked a movie in a long time, and unfortunately, nothing really did work here. The 120 minutes run time sure did not help. There were so many moments that I felt like just walking out of there, but each time something will spark on screen (usually by Murray) and I would wish that this will somehow get better. I did learn more about this bit of history.


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