After recently watching manic American Hustle, intense Gravity and over the top The Wolf of Wall Street, I needed a sedative. Monuments Men was the perfect answer although the valium was a little strong. While I did not sleep (I never do) or snooze, I did hear some snoring in the theatre. Even the few scenes of violence were lethargic. When one of the main characters, Lieutenant Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) was killed, it was with a single shot behind a wall. Ho hum. No one in the theatre seemed to care and his fellow movie characters gave the most low keyed condolences. You could tell they were reading from a script, a poorly written one. The writing was bad. I was hoping at the end that at least President Truman’s lines would be inspiring. Not so. Truman wondered if saving 5 million pieces of art was worth the price of 2 dead soldiers. I don’t think he watched the movie.
The film was based upon the true story of the greatest treasure hunt of all time. Lieutenant Frank Stokes (George Clooney) convinces President Truman to commission a group of 7 museum directors, curators and art historians to rescue the destruction and loss by the Nazis of artistic masterpieces during World War II. To do so, they would have to go behind enemy lines into Germany; an impossible task by persons more familiar with The Pieta than a M1machine gun. This was one of the more inspiring stories of the war. Too bad director George Clooney gave us mostly biopic and little emotion. This historic story deserved better.
The cast was impressive if odd. Beside the iconic Clooney, there was John Goodman, Bill Murray, Matt Damon and Kate Blanchette. But why choose 2 comedians for such a serious narrative? Blanchette was also miscast. Seems that George chose mostly his friends.
OK so what did I like? Monuments Men was really a documentary. If nominated for an Oscar in this category, it could win. Unlike most documentaries, it had recognizable characters. The cinematography was above documentary standards. Well that’s all I can think of. One more thing. The movie conveyed a piece of history which otherwise would be left on the shelf. It was from a nostalgic era of my parents – the greatest generation. My Dad fought in that war and I’m proud of his service.
So instead of 2 stars out of 10, I give it 4.