Munich, 1918: a destitute, bigoted soldier and a wealthy Jewish art dealer strike up an uneasy acquaintance rooted in mutual fascination and revulsion - puppyish resentment on one side, noblesse oblige on the other. 'He had a bad war,' explains Max Rothman (Cusack), who should know - he lost his painting arm in battle, and is starting up a gallery in a disused ironworks. Witty, urbane, entranced by wife and mistress (Parker and Sobieski), Rothman pegs his contemptuous yet clingy fellow veteran, also a would-be painter, as an outsider artist. If the war was, as Max puts it, a 'giant piece of kitsch theatre', this coldly anti-semitic specimen of its beggar casualties could be its star. His name is Adolf Hitler. Sight unseen and months before its release, Meyjes' film was attacked for daring to 'humanise' Hitler (Taylor). But is there any doubt the Führer was a human being? Any attempt to reconcile the last century's towering monster to his unremarkable flesh and blood dimensions might be viewed as morally intrepid. Taylor's simulacrum calls to mind a famished, rabid ferret, or a caricature out of George Grosz. Perhaps it's more accurate to say Hitler has been anthropomorphised by a film that's sometimes regrettably glib, sometimes dreadfully earnest. Taken as a whole, it's an intelligent hodge-podge of period drama, revisionist history, psychological study and quixotic stunt. JWin.
Cast and crew