The Harmonists

A struggling musician trying to make do in a depressed Germany, Ulrich Noethen forms a harmonizing quintet that becomes a huge international success. The first half of The Harmonists, based on a true story, is way too cute for its own good: The Comedian Harmonists, as Noethen and his crew are called, hang out at burlesque houses and sing risqué songs, while Noethen pursues a romantic interest (Meret Becker). Enter the Nazis. Much like Life Is Beautiful, the film gradually shifts gears from giddy comedy to political drama, as the Jewish members of the troupe find themselves under fire from the increasingly hostile German government. But while Noethen resembles Roberto Benigni, The Harmonists is a far cry from Benigni's unlikely hit. The sentimentality is laid on too thick to be effective, and the Nazis are reduced to a vague threat right out of The Sound Of Music. Like some perverse reworking of history, the film's pat ending, though true, seems far too easy, just as the movie's morals can't help but seem way too obvious. Yep, those Nazis were bad people, but The Harmonists only hints at the Nationalist menace of Nazi Germany as a whole.

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