- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jan
Noah Taylor is best known for his charming lead role in the romantic comedy
Hitler's acquaintance, German artist Max Rothman, is played by John Cusack in his finest dramatic work. As Hitler tries to win an exhibit in Rothman's art gallery, Rothman tries to steer Hitler away from the ugly and divisive politics of German anti-Semites. But when he refuses to give Hitler the exposure he wants, Hitler loses his patience. Their friendship heads for disaster, and the world plunges toward a nightmare.
Menno Meyjes's film is an ambitious idea, and it gives Taylor and Cusack opportunities for passionate speeches and energetic debates. But that is about all the film has to offer. The speeches and arguments themselves are simplistic, telling us what we already know. They sound like what non-artists might imagine artists talk about, but to artists they will sound frustratingly shallow and obvious. I kept wondering what director Milos Forman would have done with the material; his interest in how the angst of troubled men was transformed into art and comedy made both
The film's narrow focus on the days when Hitler failed bitterly as an artist could have gone deeper into questions of how political agendas and artistic vision conflict. Or we might have had a larger biopic, seeing how Hitler's artistic aspirations nearly became a far less destructive route for his passions had he channeled his energies in that direction.
But the title of the film is
The limited release of the film has brought it to the attention of only a few religious press critics. Ted Baehr (
Mainstream critics are either mildly impressed or somewhat dissatisfied. Stephen Holden (The New York Times) says, "It is a historical fantasy connecting fact and wild supposition into a provocative work of fiction that poses ticklish questions about art and society." David Poland raves, "The thing that really took me by surprise about this film was how gentle and lovely and emotionally complex this journey was. Cusack is at the top of his game as a man of breeding, taste and real caring. Taylor has his career-best role and hits it out of the park."