4 Stars
Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 106 minutes
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Ask a crowded room full of people what Adolf Hitler wanted to be prior to becoming the opinionated orator we know him best as and chances are only a couple of them will be able to answer you. Ask the question again in 6 months – after Menno Meyjes’s “Max” is released – and chances are almost the entire room of people will be able to tell you. Ah, the miraculous history lesson a film can be.
Yet another wildly ignored piece of history, “Max” centers on the anarchic friendship between art dealer Max Rothman (John Cusack) and his student, Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor).
What’s so interesting here – the reason that the Jewish Defense League is protesting – is that Adolf Hitler was allegedly molded from the world around him and not born the antichrist we’d all figure him to be. Seems those outside influences – notably fellow soldiers and candid captains – ultimately drove Hitler away from his love of art and onto the podium, where he’d maniacally shout about the injustices of the Jewish.
Rothman is essentially the only person who sees more than a peculiar, highly-strung soldier in Hitler, giving him a chance to succeed where he most wants…in the art world. Whilst his talent is minute, Rothman feels there’s a lot more going on there and that the young Hitler could ultimately be the next futurist of the art world.
As history lovers might note, Rothman is actually a fictional character. He’s essentially a composite of several real life characters that Hitler crossed paths with. He’s a fantastic contrast – with his family ways and dissimilar outlook on life – to the bewildered, heated 30-year-old Adolf Hitler.
Noah Taylor –one of Australia’s most prolific actors – is gob smacking in his performance as the high-strung young Hitler. His unorthodox physical build and look have worked in his favor.
The lead, John Cusack, is equally good, even though he has a character far less challenging. But for Cusack – who hasn’t been seen in anything this good for quite some time – this is a tour de force for the contemporary times. Cusack’s deadpan delivery works a treat here.
Many will argue that “Max” is an idealistic or ultra–speculative piece on the young Hitler. Forget about that for a moment and just immerse yourself in two fantastic performers, a polished narrative (by Menno Meyjes) and a “could have happened” scenario.
It plays all too real if you ask me.

Posted on December 24, 2002 in Reviews by

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