The Monuments Men is rather a tough film to understand. Not because of the storyline but because it struggles to decide what kind of movie it wants to be. This Second World War caper maintains a comedic element throughout which makes it difficult to take its subject matter seriously enough.
George Clooney stars in and directs the true story of a group of old timing misfits, brought together due to their love of art. This unique band of brothers are sent into the heart of battle in order to prevent the Nazis from stealing and ultimately destroying some of the world’s most famous pieces of art. This all towards the end of the war, which means the Nazis have almost admitted defeat, adding more incentive to demolish culture’s finest products.
Clooney has already proved himself in the director’s chair with successful outings in The Ides of March and Good Night, and Good Luck. However, where these films both had a true thought provoking backbone behind them, The Monuments Men struggles to pick apart its audience’s brains. This may partly be down to the film’s mighty cast including Clooney himself, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Jean Dujardin. Add in recent Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Brit Hugh Bonneville, this is a cast with a wealth of experience and talent. Yet the film struggles to get the best out of any of them and this therefore makes it difficult to fully engage with any of the characters and ultimately the story.
The Monuments Men will make you laugh and it will also sadden you. And right here is it’s primary downfall. The film fails to set a tone and passes you by without making any real impact, which is a shame, as the storyline of such an epic tale is really not done justice.
In it’s defence, the film is clever and quirky and the vast array of World War II scene locations are beautiful and extremely detailed.
The Monuments Men had all the ingredients to produce a great piece of film, but in an attempt to stretch to a more mainstream audience, it backfires and is anything but monumental. It’s attempts to balance the comedy and drama fail and the audience are left unattached and unengaged.