One hundred and forty minutes is an awful lot of foreplay for a 10-minute payoff. Yet that’s what Quentin Tarantino is requiring of audiences who commit to his latest film, Inglourious Basterds.
Set in Nazi-occupied France, Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino doing what he does: taking serious and bloody topics and approaching them with a quirky, irreverent eye. The “basterds,” besides being poor spellers, are a group of soldiers (many of them Jewish) with one mission and one mission only: killin’ Naatzis. Naughtzis? Gnat-zees? (It’s tough to phonetically spell Nazis the way Brad Pitt manages to drawl the phrase in the film.)
Lead by Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt), the soldiers are legendary for — in the following order — showing no mercy, creative killing methods, scalping, and the occasional facial carving. They’re so effective and feared by German soldiers that they reduce Hitler to a red-faced, screaming child throwing a temper-tantrum.
But that’s only half the story. Operating in completely different circles is cinema-owner Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), sole survivor of her family’s slaughter years earlier by Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Much to Shosanna’s chagrin, she captures the eye of young Nazi war hero and aspiring actor Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl). When Zoller convinces the Third Reich to screen a film at Shosanna’s theater, she hatches a plan to take advantage of her captive audience. The stories then overlap, as the Basterds have asked actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) to help them crash the screening so they can plan their own special surprise for the Nazi guests.
To read the rest of Tim’s review, hop on over to Metro Weekly, where his article is currently running.