The Good Shepherd (15)
Time Out says
Tue Feb 20 2007At one point in De Niro’s belated second directorial outing, CIA hotshot Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) tells old flame Laura (Tammy Blanchard) that his life, since leaving her for upper-crust beauty Clover (Angelina Jolie) years ago, has been full of surprises. For him, maybe, but not to anyone familiar with the ‘serious’ spy movie à la le Carré. As the often turgid tale of one man’s hugely successful but (inevitably) emotionally costly career lumbers along, all the conventions are feebly trotted out: childhood trauma; preppy connections made at Yale (complete with gay lit prof); shady but seductive approaches made by neatly raincoated men whispering purply allusive verbiage of the ‘crows fly at midnight’ variety; increasingly hard demands made on family life by patriotic duty; the widening of professional horizons from WW2 OSS activities to the imperialist global policies of the Cold War; and the predictably gradual soul-freezing consequences of a life in which trust is impossible.
Trouble is, despite one draggy foray into Gilbert and Sullivan, Wilson, as played by Damon, never had much soul in the first place. When Sgt Ray Brocco (John Turturro) arrives to serve as his assistant, he’s told the boss is a man with no discernible sense of humour – true also of this portentous, ponderous film, which seems to equate art and substance with solemnity and slow tempo; even an offscreen children’s rendition of ‘Michael, Row the Boat Ashore’ (the movie’s big on period detail) is largo. The film’s watchable enough if you’re indulgent of its flaws, satisfied by star turns (William Hurt, Michael Gambon, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crudup, Joe Pesci and John Sessions, not to mention the director’s own stale cameo), and happy ticking off clichés, but at 167 minutes it does tax the patience.
Author: Geoff Andrew
Fri Feb 23 2007
Cast and crew
Matt Damon, John Sessions, Oleg Stefan, John Turturro, Eddie Redmayne, Lee Pace, Timothy Hutton, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Tammy Blanchard, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Keir Dullea, Martina Gedeck, William Hurt