Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Good Shepherd: a complex slow film with no meaning
Robert De Niro has made a film about the foundation and the history of the CIA. He creates a fantastic character in order to tell a true story. Great and famous actors play all the roles, small and big ones of this film. De Niro in one of his first attempts as director he does the required job adequately but without creating a personal style or something unique.
Mat Damon is represented as a humble unknown American hero. He sacrifices the love of his family, his need of human contact and even his humanity in order to protect his country. His efforts are never recognized. He is a good shepherd because for De Niro it is more important to take care of your country and of society than to take care of your family. It seems that he declares that even if CIA has done unforgivable things, it is the necessary evil for America and America’s culture to prevail. Therefore the meaning of the film is rather conservative and patriotic.
Besides its meaning the film is not even that well made. The history of the CIA is complex. One has to have an adequate knowledge of contemporary history and politics in order to be able to understand the historic references. To make things worse De Niro has also chosen an intricate narrative. Instead of the usual linear story line in this film we have two plots. The first one refers to the past and the other to the somewhat present. As the film progresses the two diverse story lines meet and eventually move further together. Moreover, Mat Demon in the central role is the only actor who doesn’t age along with the others. He has exactly the same face, hair style and everything from his student days up to his middle age. Even if this not aging of the central character is an interesting and apparently a symbolic choice it makes the situation even more impossible. It is rather difficult for the spectator to decipher when the film refers to the past and when to the present. This intricate montage and narrative has no special meaning that would at least partly justify the confusion that is created. As I said before even if De Niro is doing an adequate job as a director the result is rather flat and mediocre. Great actors have been used for all the roles. They manage to give great performances. I am rather impressed by Angelina Jolie in the role of the neglected wife. On the other hand choosing the beautiful and sexy Angelina for this role is probably bad casting. I don’t many would believe that a woman so beautiful would be someone that her husband never loved or never desired.
The Good shepherd is a three hour almost long film with slow pace difficult to follow script that even if you can watch it with some interest in the end you have to wonder why it was made. I was definitely not made for entertaining reason because in that case it would include action scenes and rapid pace. It is a film made for thinking, but it offers nothing to contemplate on.