Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Good Shepherd

2006, US, directed by Robert De Niro

De Niro's account of the early years of the inception and early years of the CIA is compelling enough, but you get the feeling it's all very over-determined, as though the central conflict has an inevitable outcome designed to show Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) the error of his ways. Wilson's a spectacularly humourless man - don't these super-spies ever crack a joke? - who's barely capable of expressing affection to his family, and the film ultimately runs further with than conceit than with Wilson's actual motivations and beliefs as he becomes integrated into the country's espionage bureaucracy. The film has considerable value in outlining the ways in which wartime created the conditions for the post-war apparatus of paranoia (a self-fulfilling paranoia at times) but it's less successful in revealing much about a man whose character has been sketched in broad strokes early on.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States