Directed by Vicente Amorim
Written by John Wrathall, based on the play by C.P. Taylor
Viggo Mortensen as John Halfer
Jason Isaacs as Maurice
Jodie Whittaker as Anne
"Good" feels like a retread in the Nazi genre, which has seemingly become overblown and tired in the last two months ago. And its interesting to chart my lose of interest and my inability to be moved any longer since November when "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" really impressed me. But by now, and by having absolutely nothing in it to affect me, "Good" ends up being a last minute addition to the list of worst films of the year, as its December 31st release date might be able to suggest.
Viggo Mortensen, an actor who drifts from performances full of depth and meaning like in "Eastern Promises" and "A History of Violence," and then manages to become stale and lifeless, like in "Hidalgo," does terrible work as John Halfer, an intellectual and married professor who is living in the midst of World War Two, but shuns the concept of Nazi's and hating Jews, and instead enjoys himself with regular lunches with his Jewish friend Maurice. His home life is somewhat awful, as he lives with his ill mother who is both senile and a hassle. Everything changes when John begins to have an affair with his student, Anne, divorcing his wife and then going into the Nazi movement according to Anne's desire to be a part of the movement. John quickly advances, to the dismay of Maurice who is forced to hole up into hiding, until Maurice asks John for transit papers to escape to Paris, a job that John finds harder than he originally planned.
"Good" is based on a play by C.P. Taylor, and having never seen on the stage or even ever aware of its existence I cannot say if the play was bad to begin with or it just did not translate well to the screen. But I was unable to find any kind of emotional investment in this film, from the rather wooden performance of Viggo Mortensen to the final manipulative shot. The film ends with John looking face to face at a Nazi concentration camp, and in a long shot that lasts about five minutes he sees the horror that his "movement" is bringing to the Jews. The scene is a huge change from the style of the rest of the film, which is told in a very simple manner with rather conventional shots and framing, although I did like the skewed and moving camera angles and motion as it showed John at his fractured home in the films earlier scene. The final moments follow John around as he walks around, and if one hadn't seen the exact same image in a million other films of the same subject matter. Its a problem considering it felt the entire film was banking on the successfulness of the final images, and as is the entire film seems almost like a waste of time.
As I mentioned earlier, Mortensen's performance is completely stale and lacking of any emotion. He almost seemed awkward standing there in every scene, and this is certainly not one of the his high moments. When he character comes to his emotional climax, I felt absolutely nothing emoting from Mortensen, and instead of feeling sympathy towards his change, it was almost laughable. Jason Isaacs has a few comedic moments that I enjoyed, and at least he brought a certain amount of charisma to the table. I liked Maurice, and the questioned fate of his character was the only thing that I liked about the conclusion of this film. I was more happy to be away and out of this dull and dreary piece of work. There could be plenty amount of wordplay with the title of the movie, but to keep up with the tradition of being cliche that this film enjoys taking a part of, "Good" is simple "Bad."