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The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men: Clooney-Led WWII Comedy-Drama

  • Bill MurrayCate Blanchett...
  • Action & AdventureDrama
  • George Clooney
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Monuments Men: Clooney-Led WWII Comedy-Drama

Based on a true story, George Clooney’s World War II set gilm, The Monuments Men – inspired by Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History – tells a tale of heroism and the importance of preserving cultural heritage.     

Set in the final stages of World War II, the story follows Frank Stokes (Clooney); an art historian who assembles a team of art specialists to help track down, and retrieve, all of the priceless artefacts stolen by the Nazis during their invasion of Europe.  

Eager to participate, the team includes a brittle museum curator, James Granger (Damon), theatre operator, Preston Savitz (Balaban), loopy architect, Richard Campbell (Murray), shabby sculptor, Walter Garfield (Goodman), French art dealer, Jean-Claude Clermont (Dujardin), and Englishman, Donald Jeffries (Bonneville). Arriving in Europe, the team splits into groups to search for clues across Germany and France; however, the leads to the missing treasure are not so easy to find, and with the Germans threatening to destroy all of the stolen artwork, Stokes and his team need to work fast if they are ever to retrieve the precious goods.

The star-studded, multi-Oscar-winning cast appear relatively at ease in their respective roles and emdoy their respective characters well. Murray offers a couple of memorable moments, while his onscreen hostility towards the equally entertaining Balaban is entertaining throughout. The energy between Clooney and Damon, meanwhile, is like seeing to old friends getting back together, following their Ocean’s Eleven days. Unfortunately, Blanchett’s role as the secretive, extremely cautious French museum employee is incredibly underwritten, while the dynamics between Goodman and Dujardin, wh spend much of the film together, feels forced.   

The cinematography is impressive and the structure of switching between different chapters of the story is clever; however, with Clooney starring, directing and producing, he may have just given himself too much to do. The overall final execution leaves the film with very little room – or time – for the story or its colourful characters to fully develop.

Riddled with pacing issues, The Monuments Men, is refreshingly bloodless, humorous and touching at times, but ultimately fails to build on either emotion or momentum, leaving Clooney’s message of the significance of a culture’s of history and heritage a little lost.

Like This? Try

The Rape of Europa (2006), The Train (1964), Valkyrie (2008)

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Daniel Craig was originally cast in the role of James Granger, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. 

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