American journalist Jake Geismer (George Clooney) returns to postwar Berlin, prior to the famous Potsdam Conference—with Churchill, Truman and Stalin putting together the postwar plan—to find that things have changed much more than he could have imagined. Would he find peace? Or maybe a particular story angle for his American magazine? What he did not expect to find was his former lover Lena (Cate Blanchett), a Jewish lady who has used some very unusual methods to avoid her own detection living inside of Germany during the last years of the war.
Geismer is thereby led to a murder case that he tries desperately to solve. In the process he is led to uncover a plot that involves Americans who are seeking to secure the freedom and services of a German bomb expert who they now want to help them in the postwar era, foreseeing a struggle with Russia. There is one problem—the desired expert was guilty of serious atrocities that led to the death of thousands of Jews and other minorities during the war. Lena is connected to it all because her husband worked as the scientist’s associate and thus the plot builds from this connection.
The famous director Steven Soderbergh uses real talent, including Toby Maguire (Spider Man), to tell an engrossing story. Rolling Stone rightly called The Good German “haunting and hypnotic, pure movie going bliss.”
The Good German is rated R and thus should not be viewed by young children or younger teens. It tells a sad but all-too-human story that underscores the moral problems faced on every side following World War II. Anyone who thinks that the Allies were always the “good guys” is quite blind to the harsh realities of real war. War has not been called “hell” for nothing. The Good German shows quite well why this is true, even in the peace that followed a great and necessary conflict. Human nature doesn’t fundamentally change—before, during or after war. The Good German makes this point quite powerfully. This is not a truly great movie but it is one well worth watching.