this is one of those movies with an appealing-sounding blurb that gets negative reviews. admittedly, the only reviews of the movie i'd read were from fellow users of mail-order dvd rental outfit fatso.co.nz. but the blurb won me over and so did the fact that it stars john cusack; i added it to my wait list and it turned up a couple of days ago in the post - no one else wanted it.
let me recap the synopsis that made me want to watch the film: a jewish german named max rothman (cusack) returns from the front having served for germany in WWI. he was an artist before the war but having lost an arm, he sets up an art dealership selling the latest avant-garde modernist art in munich.
against the backdrop of germany's defeat and the severe reparations imposed by the treaty of versailles, rothman comes across a young artist who has also just returned from the front: a corporal by the name of hitler - adolf hitler. rothman tries to encourage hitler to express his angst more fully in his paintings. hitler, however, is also dabbling in oratory and politics, and is caught between struggling to be an artist (an occupation that he genuinely believes he has a calling for) and his obvious abilities for convincing oratory... well, history tells us which direction he headed in.
but this film is fascinating. cusack reminded me why it is that i like his acting so much - he is brilliant in this role - he had me hooked on his character within the first few minutes. the guy playing hitler (noah taylor) was also very good.
i suppose that it helped that i have an interest in art and history, but i found the character studies of this film riveting - both rothman and hitler are tremendously complex characters. and the film ends with a heart-wrenching and ominous conclusion. it is understated, but knowing what happened in actual history makes the film reverberate with meaning.
so, my fellow fatso members, i defy you. this is a great movie.
watch it my friends (especially if you are into modernist art or history).
on the headphones: 'reprise' by hollie smith, from the album 'long player'.