Friday, December 29, 2006

Film Review: “The Good Shepherd” with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robert DeNiro

“The Good Shepherd” is a powerful film with a strong cast, secrets, twists and historical background on the rise of the CIA. Reminiscent of “Ocean’s Eleven” and “The Departed,” it featured Matt Damon surrounded by an array of Oscar winners. Robert DeNiro, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt and Joe Pesci gave smooth performances as did Damon’s CIA-agent character, a quiet workaholic forced to marry Angelina Jolie. Surely it took all of Damon’s skills to convince us that living with her equaled torture.

One striking element in this film is the eye contact between Damon and the boy who plays his son. Damon chooses country over family and the neglect of his young boy creates heartbreaking tension as his son gazes at him with hatred, his questions unanswered, his chin trembling, and his eyes on the brink of tears, as mine also were several times during the 160 minutes in the theatre.

Jolie did a marvelous job of biting her tongue as the role of unwanted wife required. No doubt her reputation will improve with this sympathetic portrayal of a neglected beauty who devotes her life to being a mother. Secret societies abound in the plot, from the Skull & Crossbones to the CIA to Yale University (which, these days, is just as hard to get in).

Twists and turns take the storyline in unexpected directions and I sat on the edge of my seat for the entire film. The question of patriotism comes into play along with sacrifice. What values supersede family?

Set mainly around war (World War II and the Bay of Pigs fiasco), the film offers a behind-the-scenes look at history unfolding. By the time Jolie asks, “What are you going to do? Save the world?” the audience is confident that Damon’s character will do just that. But at what price?

“The Good Shepherd” is a universally entertaining film about espionage that appeals to both genders. It made me laugh, wipe my eyes, close my eyes (when an enemy was tortured) and bite my nails. The genre is drama; the rating is R.

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posted by - @ 12/29/2006 11:02:00 PM |


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