Inglourious Basterds (18)



Action (2009)
152mins US

Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Til Schweiger, Mike Myers, Cloris Leachman, Michael Fassbender, Christian Berkel, Maggie Cheung
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer(s): Quentin Tarantino
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

In Nazi-occupied France, German officer Colonel Hans Landa interrogates a farmer suspected of harbouring Jewish families. Dozens perish in the subsequent bloodbath but one young woman, Shosanna, escapes and reinvents herself as a cinema owner in Paris, where she plots revenge. Meanwhile, British Lieutenant Archie Hicox and a renegade gang of Jewish American renegades plot twin assaults on the Third Reich.

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LondonNet Film Review
Inglourious Basterds

"Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France..." begins Quentin Tarantino's long mooted war opus, a blood-soaked fairytale divided into five hefty chapters...

Wilhelm (Alexander Fehling), German Private #2 (Zack Volker Michalowski), Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), German Private #3 (Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey), German Private #1 (Ken Duken) in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Photo: Francois Duhamel. Copyright: 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.For most of the vengeful characters in Inglourious Basterds, there is no happy ever after - the body count is staggeringly high and almost nobody reaches the end credits unscathed. However, Tarantino's distinctive vision does end on an upbeat note as its plays loose and fast with historical fact, particularly with regards to the Third Reich, and splices genres to dizzying and sometimes breathtaking effect. The sharp mood swings, from the edge of seat nerves of the opening segment to the grisly humour which heralds the arrival of Brad Pitt's gung-ho avenger ("Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps... and I want my scalps!"), takes a little time to get used to. And Tarantino certainly takes his time, rather indulgently allowing his pulpy fiction to unspool over the course of two and a half hours. Thankfully, Inglourious Basterds is a return to form after Death Proof, the writer-director's high-octane contribution to the Grindhouse double-bill, blessed with an Oscar-worthy supporting performance from Christoph Waltz as a sadistic German Colonel with an unsteady grasp of idioms: "What's the American expression? If the shoe fits you must wear it?"

He ignites the opening chapter as Colonel Hans Landa, a Nazi officer with a nose for deception, who interrogates a farmer suspected of harbouring Jewish families. "May I switch to English for the remainder of this conversation?" asks Landa slyly as he bullies his suspect into submission, while the families he seeks lurk beneath the dusty floorboards, holding their breath much like us. Dozens of men, women and children perish in the subsequent bloodbath but one young woman, Shosanna (Melanie Laurent), escapes and reinvents herself as a cinema owner in Paris, where she plots her revenge against the men responsible for her family's demise. "I am going to burn down the cinema on Nazi night," she tells her co-worker and lover, referring to a forthcoming gala of propaganda film Nation's Pride starring real-life hero Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), which will be attended by Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). Meanwhile, British Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) goes undercover to assassinate Hitler during the premiere at Shosanna's cinema, aided by leading lady Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger). Simultaneously, a gang of merciless Jewish-American renegades, led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his loyal sergeants Donowitz (Eli Roth) and Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), plots to blow up the cinema and kill the upper echelons of the Third Reich with a single attack. Operation Kino must succeed - the price of failure for the rest of Europe is unthinkable.

Melanie Laurent stars in Quentin Tarantino's latest film INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS as Shosanna. Photo Credit: Francois Duhamel. Copyright: 2009 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Inglourious Basterds is a stylish and blackly humour escapade let down by the film's disjointed structure and Tarantino's reluctance to edit more judiciously. The picture unfolds in fits and spurts, energized by Waltz's scintillating portrayal of evil and directorial brio, particularly in the explosive finale when many of the characters come together under the roof of Shosanna's cinema. Kruger plies a fake smile to perfection as the snake in the Nazi grass and Laurent looks like a woman haunted by the ghosts of her horrific past. Pitt is forgettable in a quirky supporting role while Mike Myers enjoys a cameo as a doddering British general and Samuel L Jackson adds an unnecessary voiceover at the film's midway point. Violence is graphic but used sparingly including a cinema shootout that conjures memories of Brian De Palma's Scarface and enough scalping of nameless German characters to turn half the audience vegetarian. If the writer-director had just scalped his own vision by at least 30 minutes, this might have been his masterpiece.

- Jo Planter


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