Large portions of this movie are in German or French, with English subtitles.
Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Brad Pitt
Lt. Aldo Raine: You probably heard we ain’t in the prisoner-takin’ business. We in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin’.
It’s World War II, and a special team of Jewish-Americans (aka The Basterds), led by Aldo Raine (Pitt), is working its way through German occupied France, killing Nazis along the way in a brutal fashion. Meanwhile, Shosanna (Laurent), a Jewish woman – living under a false name in Paris – who survived the massacre of her family 4 years before, is asked to host a special screening of the latest Nazi propaganda film at her cinema. The Basterds hear about this and plan to take the opportunity to kill a lot of high ranking Nazis. What they don’t know is that Shosanna is planning a similar massacre of her own.
This is Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, and I know people like to say (with regards to most of his movies), “if you’re a Tarantino fan, you’ll probably like it.” I never found that to be true, as he’s been pretty hit and miss to me. I liked this movie, despite his usual choice of style over substance sometimes being on display. In fact, from what I’ve seen of his directing efforts, this one comes in second place for me behind Pulp Fiction. If we include his writing efforts, this would then come in third behind Pulp Fiction and True Romance.
What I liked about this movie is that even the long drawn out conversations managed to have an underlying tension to them in almost every case. Yes, there are a few moments that could probably be trimmed, but I think Tarantino likes to hear himself speak, even if it has to be through the mouths of the actors reading his dialogue. But like I mentioned, most of the dialogue here serves a purpose. Whenever Col. Hans Landa (Waltz, in a great performance) sits down with someone in a seemingly friendly manner, you know you’re going to see a cat and mouse conversation that could spell doom for whoever he’s sitting down with. You always suspect that he knows more than he’s letting on, and that’s a tribute to Waltz’s performance.
Brad Pitt brings most of the comedy relief to the movie with his strained southern accent and light-hearted attitude towards the brutal killings his team is performing. Meanwhile, though her character might be a little dull and one note, Melanie Laurent does a good job bringing credibility and emotion to her role. Most of the other “Basterds” are left underdeveloped as peripheral characters, save for Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), who gets a quick, entertaining segment explaining his past.
Don’t go into this movie looking for much – if any – historical accuracy, especially with the conclusion. And don’t go looking for any big sweeping social message other than “Nazis were bad, m’kay?” Just go in looking for some entertaining performances, interesting dialogue, and gruesome violence. If you do that, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Re-writing history is fun!
10 – .8 for dragging in a few spots – .9 for some underdeveloped characters – .5 for going for style over substance at times – .1 because I have to take something off for the off-putting violence = 7.7