After seeing 'The Monuments Men', I set off for the London premiere to talk to the stars about how it all came about and why they so desperately wanted to tell this story. But did this impressive cast and the intriguing story on which the film is based result in an equally impressive film?
'The Monuments Men' is about a group of people during World War II who were sent in to preserve art before Hitler could destroy it all because, it was argued, preserving the culture of a nation is just as important as preserving life. Co-writer and co-producer Grant Heslov told me at the premiere that what he took away from the film was just 'how important art is to our culture and what it says about who we are'.
The film adapts a fascinating story which appears to be a new, untold angle from World War II as yet unexplored. Sadly, the film cannot quite decide whether or not it is a serious and powerful war film or a fun, silly caper movie. The result is something very disjointed, as the film leaps from moving and emotional to silly and ridiculous often.
'The Monuments Men' is, however, saved from being awful by the staggering cast Heslov and George Clooney managed to compile. The cast list includes long-time friend and co-worker of Clooney's, Matt Damon, 'Downton Abbey' star Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin ('The Artist'), Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman. This might seem like a difficult cast to get together but Clooney explained that 'Mostly they're friends of mine … which made it easier to call them up.' It doesn't sound like anyone needed that much persuasion either with Jean Dujardin describing working with his co-stars as 'unbelievable'.
The cast all put in great performances. If anything, their talents are somewhat underused thanks to the split dynamic of the film. With all the jumping around between groups, there isn't really a lot of time to get used to their respective stories before leaping over to another. With Clooney at the helm, both as director and star of this ensemble effort, the result is still an enjoyable watch despite its flaws. There is love there which is easy to see - for the cast, the project and the artwork involved. It's not hard looking at Clooney either - even with that moustache!
The absolute highlight is any moment Bill Murray is on screen with co-star Bob Balaban. The banter between the two manages to be both serious and hilarious and they provide one of the most tension-riddled scenes in the whole film. 'I think we enjoyed ourselves,' Balaban told me. 'I would say we'd probably risk doing it again…'
This is something audiences would no doubt love to see - but perhaps in a more cohesive story next time!
Amanda Keats is a film geek with a special interest in adaptations, foreign cinema and films that go beyond the norm. She would like to be friends with Katniss Everdeen but would probably not last long in a Hunger Games scenario. Follow Amanda Keats on Twitter and Facebook.
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