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UKScreen Rating:

Good – Review


In 1930s Germany, literature professor and sometime author John (Mortensen) and doctor Maurice (Isaacs) are inseparable best friends.
Maurice is Jewish, John isn’t, but among other things, they share a hatred for the Nazis.
John’s wife (Whittaker) thinks differently, though. Her father is high up in the National Socialist Party and keeps reminding John that he’s unlikely to get a promotion until he joins up too.
Things are getting tough for Maurice – the Nazis have already stopped him practicing medicine and bit by bit, he can see his liberties being shaved away.
But when – while relaxing by a lake – John tells him he’s been promoted, the final nail is hammered into his coffin.
In giving in to temptation, thinking about his own future, has John irreparably damaged his closest friendship?
Can he be the one “good” Nazi, or does signing up change everything forever?


The title suggests a similar idea to that expressed in Tom Cruise’s recent Valkyrie – that not all Nazis were bad.
Some people might have signed up for reasons other than to cleanse their society of undesirables – some good people might have been driven into the party, because under Hitler’s iron fist, if you didn’t capitulate, you were as much of an outsider as the populations that were destroyed.
Here, we certainly see a man who doesn’t support the Nazi philosophy and despises everything they do and say, but has the heart-wrenching decision to make.
This film effectively shows a highly respected and honourable man, struggling with the guilt he suffers as a result of ultimately putting pragmatism ahead of principles.
To add to his turmoil, at the same time as turning his back on his best friend, John is also turning his back on his wife – the irony, in part, being that pressure from her was what turned him against his friend in the first place.
Mortensen’s performances is a little underplayed with too little emotion displayed for us truly to feel his pain.
Isaacs, however, fits so effortlessly into his role that it’s hard to believe that he’s even acting.
Most of the other performances are rather too obvious.
With so many films tackling the years before, during and after the Second World War, this has little new to offer – and where its themes overlap with older films – such as the portrayal of the regime and its concentration camps – it does not compare too favourably.
It’s by no means a bad drama – but its messages and conclusions are neither original nor surprising and the inexorable direction of the plot detracts somewhat from the drama.

opens nationwide 17th April 2009



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