Feb 17, 2007

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd represents Robert De Niro's second attempt at directing following on from A Bronx Tale (1993). He has managed to craft a dense, intricate film that while not wholly satisfying is a rewarding film on some levels after its 2 hour 45 minutes length. The film tells the story of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) who upon leaving Yale University in 1939 joins Military Intelligence where he is posted to Europe during World War II. After the war Wilson returns home to work for the fledgling CIA. The film then jumps back and forth from his CIA career to the pivotal year of 1961 when the failed Bay of Pigs operation was attempted during the Kennedy Administration. The movie covers a lot of ground and introduces a lot of key characters. William Hurt is excellent as usual as the CIA director, John Turturro convincing as Matt Damon's assistant and the marvelous Michael Gambon as Damon's professor at Yale. The only weak point in the cast is Angelina Jolie as Damon's wife Margaret. As usual I find her acting wooden and her screen presence to be zero. The Good Shepherd's main weakness is its lack of dramatic tension in the first 2 hours. Whilst it remains interesting it never takes a grip on you. A stunning torture scene conducted by John Turturro really escalates the film and the remainder is quite spellbinding as the action flows from scene to scene. Matt Damon is practically in every scene through out and he is excellent as the stoic life long career man who sacrifices his family for career. He remains nearly expressionless through out but I think this suits the character he is asked to play. So summing up, I believe The Good Shepherd is an earnest film that delivers an insight into the beginnings and inner workings of the CIA, without ever scaling any great dramatic heights. Oh and I reckon the film would have looked sensational in black and white.

You can view some trailers here.


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