That said, it's like Casablanca turned on it's ear. Instead of the noble Ilsa, we have the ignoble Lena. Instead of the jaded Rick we have the weary Jake. And we have Tobey Maguire playing the kind of character you hope dies a horrible and painful death. And instead of the heroic but barely seen Victor Lazlo, fighting the Nazis, we have Lena's husband, a mid-level nobody, who was as she puts it, "Good with numbers," in a postwar world where the world has too many shades of grey.
Lena does what she must to survive, to survive in a brutal, primitive place. It's so hard for us to understand today, or even, I think for older Americans to fully understand what it must be like to be in countries in the aftermath. What you must do. We say we would never do certain things, and yet, do we know that. There was book that came out last year or the year before written by or at least from the POV of a woman in post WWII Berlin. I would say that Lena's experiences mirrored those.
And, of course, the Americans, the Russians, all feel ends justify means yet punish the individual who does the same.
The performances are spot on, of course, which all depends on what you think of George Clooney, whom I happen to like. Much has been said about the cinematography. I really like Soderbergh, but all of his films look overexposed to me. While it seems appropriate for the Ocean's films, or Traffic, or even The Limey, it seems odd here. He manages to make post-war Berlin both dimly lit and overexposed.