By Jenny Peters
“Inglourious Basterds” is a crazy, violent, rollicking ride into the mind of Quentin Tarantino, as he re-imagines the way World War Two played out. Anchored by Brad Pitt’s witty, tough-guy performance as a fanatic American Nazi killer and juxtaposed against a suitably smarmy and deeply evil take on a ruthless Nazi colonel by Christophe Waltz, the movie starts slow, but builds up steam to an incredibly satisfying ending.
Told in “chapters,” Tarantino’s obvious fairy tale takes a while to get going, as the opening “Once upon a time” segment lingers a bit too long on a French farmer who is harboring a Jewish family in his basement as the Nazis have occupied France. Important for the introduction of the Nazi (Waltz) who uncovers – and murders – that family, and of the girl who gets away, by the time that sequence is over, the usually fast-paced Tarantino has us wondering if the whole flick is going to be this slow.
But happily, the writer-director gets rolling, and most of the film is a quick-moving story of what happens to Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent), the Jew that got away, as well as the titular Inglourious Basterds, a band of American Jewish saboteurs who infiltrate behind the Nazi lines in France and proceed to wreak havoc on any and all they find.
As Lieutenant Aldo Raine, a Southern hillbilly with a bit of Apache blood, Brad Pitt leads the Basterds on a campaign of intimidation, building a reputation that strikes terror all the way into the heart of Adolph Hitler. Their exploits are legendary, and the brutality they inflict is very specific and, in typical Tarantino style, right in your face.
As the two stories culminate in a wildly exciting finale set in a posh movie theater in the center of Paris, you’ll find yourself rooting against the Nazis with a gusto that goes far and beyond a typical, based-on-reality World War Two movie. And the beauty of Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” is that it delivers an ending that you’ll be smiling over for days to follow; and won’t feel a moment’s guilt about enjoying either.
But, as Tarantino told reporters at the press day for the film, “If you don’t want to see the Nazis get hit in the head with a bat in a movie called ‘Inglourious Basterds’ you’re probably in the wrong part of the Cineplex!” So be warned; they really mean the “R” rating on this one.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Christophe Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender, Til Schweiger, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Jacky Ido, Mike Myers
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Studio/Official Site: http://www.inglouriousbasterds-movie.com/
Photos courtesy the Weinstein Company.