From Dec ’08 Spotlight: The final film shown at this year’s 44th annual Chicago International Film Festival was Good, a powerful new Holocaust drama based on a play by C.P. Taylor. Halder (Viggo Mortensen) and Maurice (Jason Isaacs) served together in the German army during WWI, and have been friends for decades, but slowly, inexorably, Halder is drawn into the Nazi hierarchy. The deeper he gets, the more he sees, but despite his warnings, Maurice refuses to recognize the danger. Mortensen is excellent, cast against type as a befuddled intellectual, and Isaacs is terrific as an urbane, educated Jewish man too proud to ask for help until it’s too late.

In his introduction to the published version of his play, Taylor wrote: “It still seems that there are lessons to be learned if we can examine the atrocities of the Third Reich as the result of the infinite complexity of contemporary human society, and not a simple conspiracy of criminals and psychopaths.” These are brave words from a man who admits to “deeply felt anxiety” during WWII, always worried that his Jewish family, living in the safety of Scotland, was doomed. I have been hard on most recent films about the Holocaust, but I recommend Good without hesitation.

Reviews of more recommended films with Jewish themes and content are posted in the “Columns” section of my website:

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