Monday, 21 September 2020
The Good Shepherd
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 02 January 2007 00:00
The Good Shepherd is a film that I just cannot agree on with the general movie reviewer public. Here is a film that is being called the “best political thriller in years”, “an Oscar contender”, “a masterpiece”… I, on the other hand, was bored out of my mind. And, judging by the looks on the faces of other moviegoers, I wasn’t the only one.

The movie takes on the monumental task of covering thirty years in the life of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), a fictional founding father of the CIA. How you can tell that thirty years have passed is beyond me, when the films stars have barely so much as a wrinkle and a gray hair to show the passing years. In scenes where Matt Damon is hugging his grown son (Eddie Redmayne) they look more like college roommates than father and son. And while his oddly fishy lips might have been a deliberate casting ploy, the boy certainly doesn’t look like he sprang from the loins of Angelina Jolie. As if this lack of aging isn’t confusing enough, a non-linear storyline makes it even more so.

Edward’s involvement with secret societies begins in college where his intelligence and popularity make him a prime recruit for the famous Skull and Bones. His talent quickly unveils itself when he rats out his poetry professor who is discovered to have been undercover for two years gathering information.

Though he is in love with someone else, Edward is forced into marrying the sister of a fellow Bonesman. The rebellious Clover (Angelina Jolie) forges her own unhappy future by seducing him at a party and using the consequent pregnancy as a bargaining chip for marriage. Immediately after the wedding her new husband is put on duty in Europe where he stays for years, sacrificing his family life for the good of his country.

The film is very lengthy, almost three hours, and I felt every minute of it. I can’t say that there was any one aspect to blame for my less than enthusiastic viewing. But the fact remains that I wasn’t involved in the movie. I had no attachment to any of the characters and simply didn’t care what happened. I could have walked out half way through, had a snack, picked out a book at Chapters and returned in time for the end without minding that I’d missed half the film.

I will give The Good Shepherd credit for one thing and that is the dialogue. When a movie is all talk it should at least get the dialogue right, and this one does just that.

Robert DeNiro directed this picture and, from what I understand, it was a work of passion for him. That is good because I can at least assume that he enjoyed making it more than I enjoyed watching it.

Narcoleptics beware. I give The Good Shepherd 5 out of 10 stars.