Review: The Monuments Men (2014)

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In The Monuments Men, audiences are given an exciting and amusing insight into the little-known story of the the group of the same name. Directed and co-written by star George Clooney, it is a war drama influenced by the beauty and passion of art.

Based on a true story, it follows the story of a group of men who are assigned the job of recovering the hundreds of thousands of works of art that were stolen by Nazi thieves during World War II. George Clooney is Frank Stokes, the man who unites them in their mission. Working alongside him is dedicated Englishman Donald (Hugh Bonneville), charismatic Frenchman Jean Claude (Jean Dujardin), and cynical Americans Richard, Preston and Walter (Bill Murray, John Goodman and Bob Balaban). Meanwhile, in Paris trying to trace the rightful owners of the art is James Granger, played by Matt Damon, who finds friendship in somber Frenchwoman Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett). The group make their way around Europe facing the hardships that are go hand in hand with war, all the while risking their lives in the name of art.

The leading characters of the film are not fashioned with depth or uniqueness but all actors are convincing in their performances, making the best of the material they were presented with. The majority of the actors were playing characters not dissimilar from theirselves but still gave credible performances littered with the simple yet timeless humour of the script. The scenes between Murray and Balaban were both touching and funny, although the stand out performances came from Goodman and Dujardin, their on-screen friendship radiating from their every word.

Despite being inspired by one of the most compelling yet little-known stories to come from World War II, The Monuments Men lacks the substance that could have potentially made it a masterpiece. The direction and editing was scrappy, sometimes leading to confusion but the actors and the score by Alexandre Desplat helped the audience piece together the phenomenal story unfolding before them.

The Monuments Men would be enjoyed by anyone entranced by the cultural importance of art and the beauty of the story or simply just the wonderful array of stars who appear in it. It may not be a cinematic masterpiece but it is an enjoyable film sure to entertain most.

Rating: ★★★

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