The Monuments Men (12)
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray & John Goodman
Running time: 118 min
Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed?
USA 1943: Frank Stokes (Clooney) gives a stern lecture to members of the US Government on the looting of art from national galleries, churches and private collectors in occupied Europe. With the world in the grasp of war, Frank requests that priority be given to the priceless art pieces that have endured for centuries, before they are swooped up and delivered to Hitler for his own private collection.
His request having been approved by President Roosevelt, Frank assembles a team of art appraisers, sculpters, lecturers and world renowned museum curators to hunt down these pieces and return them to their rightful owners. Among this group are his friends James Granger (Damon) and Richard Campbell (Murray).
The group follow maps and trails left behind the retreating Nazis, hoping to find the treasures that are buried somewhere in occupied Europe. But time is against them and with Hitler’s days fast becoming numbered, The Monuments Men are in a race against the clock…
The Monuments Men is a brilliantly written and acted drama that is based on a true story and from the book by Robert Edsel. The script is both touching and funny, with numerous nods to great caper films such as Kelly’s Hero’s and Ocean’s Eleven. But The Monuments Men ismore than that, it also has elements of warmth, sadness and devotion to duty.
The cast is perfect, with George Clooney portraying the leader of the group and Matt Damon as his second. However, it is Bill Murray that steals the show in virtually every scene he’s in. Not only has his comic timing not lost a beat, but his dramatic acting is one of the highlights in this piece.
The cinematography is full of seemless background CGI as it was required to take the viewer back almost 80 years. The art pieces however are perfect with great attention to detail placed on the screen so that the viewer can appreciate what these individuals achieved for future generations.
The Monuments Men is not a “guts and glory” movie, nor is it a comedy caper, but rather a drama punctuated by comedic moments, with great care and attention devoted to each of the main characters.
With the awards season about to begin, this is a perfect blend of drama, tension and comedy that ticks all the boxes and one that will surely have audiences smiling in appreciation.