3 The Monuments Men
Director: George Clooney
Stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban
What price art? George Clooney’s true-life WWII adventure puts the question up front, as curator and conservationist Frank Stokes (Clooney) lays it all out for US President Roosevelt: Hitler and his cronies have stolen tons of the great works (Picasso, Vermeer, Van Eyck), and it’s imperative to retrieve them. ‘If you destroy an entire generation of people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed,’ he says to a skeptical Roosevelt, who’s more concerned with flesh and blood than he is with oil on canvas. Still, the President permits Stokes to convene a ragtag team of operatives to salvage what they can as US forces push in from Normandy.
You might think you’re watching Stripes as opposed to Saving Private Ryan, as the group gathers for a broadly comic basic-training sequence. Here are the out-of-shape Americans (Bill Murray, John Goodman and Bob Balaban). There is the Englishman (Hugh Bonneville) tempted by drink, the Frenchman (Jean Dujardin) with the slyly salacious grin, and the German expat (Dimitri Leonidas) who proves himself a battlefield asset. And finally comes an especially bland Matt Damon, as an art restorer trying to woo resistance fighter Cate Blanchett.
Things don’t exactly improve once the action shifts to Europe. Ostensibly funny interludes like Murray and Balaban’s culture-clash encounter with a rogue SS soldier bump uneasily against sentimental scenes, such as a remember-home montage cringingly scored to ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Yet Clooney gets great work from Downton Abbey’s Bonneville – notably in an emotionally charged scene revolving around Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges – and has a fine monologue himself, in which Stokes dresses down a high-ranking German commander (a moving encapsulation of the American spirit at its best). The rest of the film is otherwise content to be another slipshod and banal, if always watchable, Hollywood co-opting of history. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs890,616
Weekly admissions: 21,578
Total box office: Dhs890,616
Total admissions: 21,578