The ageless dilemma of what happens to good men in bad times is investigated in an impoverished but interesting adaptation of CP Taylor’s 1981 play, seen in Scotland in a brilliant production by Michael Boyd in the Edinburgh International Festival of 1992.
It’s Germany in the 1930s and Hitler and the Nazi party’s ascension is well under way. Kindly literature professor John Halder (Viggo Mortensen, excellent) has some family problems involving his ex-wife (Ruth Gemmell), but he has a new girlfriend (Jody Whittaker) and his literary efforts – one of which includes a novel advocating compassionate euthanasia – have drawn acclaim from the most unexpected quarters. When Halder is unexpectedly invited to help the government’s propaganda effort on the strength of his highbrow scribblings, a process of moral erosion begins from which he will wake too late.
Mixing CP Taylor’s fable of moral cowardice and subtle corruption with Dennis Potter-ish absurdity (jolting intrusion of theatrical lighting, period songs, ensemble performances etc), Austrian/Brazilian filmmaker Vincente Amorim does his best to find a cinematic footing for what is a decidedly theatrical experience. Grappling with a clearly meagre budget and screenwriter John Wrathall’s annoyingly schematic additions to the play, Amorim struggles to maintain momentum or interest, but Good still has plenty to recommend it.
The gifted Mortensen is ably matched scene for scene by Jason Issacs (best known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) as Halder’s angry and compromised Jewish friend Maurice. Brit film staple Steve Mackintosh also does some of his best work to date as an unhinged infertile Nazi.
Selected release, Fri 17 Apr.