war epic and the big finale to summer 2009. Being a big Quentin fan (I've either really liked or loved all his films except Death Proof
, which felt mediocre), I was excited to see this. What did I think? Well let me tell you ... right after this plot synposis.
Being a Tarantino film, there are a few intersecting stories;
* Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt
) is the leader of a special opps team of Jewish soldiers (featuring That Dude Who Directed Cabin Fever
, Ryan Howard
and Neil Schwweiber
) who are assigned to kill as many Nazis as possible in Nazi occupied France. They are later joined by a few British soldiers and a German actress/allie spy (Diane Kruger
* Shoshana Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent
) is a Jewish woman who escaped from a safe house after her family is killed by Nazi SS officer Hans "The Jew Hunter" Landa (Christoph Waltz
). She runs a cinema in France and is assigned to host the premiere of a Nazi propaganda film, where she plans to extract some revenge.
This movie is hard to recommend. If you're a mainstream film fan, you'll be put off by the large amount of subtitles, the lack of the film's top billed star and the constant obscure film references. If you're a histroy buff, you'll get pissed off by the balls this film has to change history the way it does. And if you're at all squimish about blood and guts... you should stay away. Far. Away. Now, if you don't mind any of the things I've said, you'll probably love this thing. It's like watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon from the 1940s mixed with an intense Sam Peckinpah
film from the 1970s. Just know going in that the Basterds aren't featured as much as they are in the ads and you'll appreciate the film more.
The film has great performances. Brad Pitt is quite the hilarious badass, prooving that he needs to do comedic roles more often. Christophe Waltz also gives a balls out performance. Not only is he charming, elegant and lethally disturbing, but he speaks FOUR LANGUAGES! That is the most subtle version of badassery I've ever seen. There's also a performance that I'm sure will go overlooked by many with Melanie Laurent. She's like a more subdued version of Uma Thurman
in Kill Bill
in this movie; a woman who's lost so much and is hell bent on revenge against those who took her life away. Yet, she holds her anger back and releases in what could be the most awesomley horrific way possible. If I had to complain about any performance, it would probably be Eli Roth. While he wasn't bad, it seemed that his sheer giddy excitement for being in this film took away from the build up his character had.
From a writing perspective, I thought some of the longer conversation scenes could have been cut down. While they built up tension that payed off in an explosive fashion, they seem to meander at times and I felt that at least three minutes could have been cut from each of those scenes and you would still get the same effect. Yet some of the film's more subtle moments are hidden within those long conversations. My favorite had to be when Landa asks the milk famer if he can switch from his limited French to English, which he knows the farmer can speak. That just puts a giant middle finger up to all the Hollywood "wartime" movies where all the foreigners happen to speak English, but I won't point any fingers (though I am looking at you, Tom Cruise. German my ass!
Overall, I see this as a combination of Quentin's work in the ninties and the noughties; part dialogue driven multi story arc, part genre tribute ultra violence. It's likely to appease fans of both and might just bring aboard some new fans. Just don't put this as a source for your history term paper; an "F" would be guranteed if you do.
4/5 (or in Spill terms, High Matinee).