The banality of evil has met its match in the banality of "Good," a Holocaust parable that barely registers a pulse.
Viggo Mortensen plays a literature professor in Hitler's Germany who is offered a job writing a paper for the party. The Fuhrer is said to be a fan of the pro-euthanasia novel the prof wrote years ago and is looking for academic support for his ideas about weeding out the aged and infirm.
The Mortensen character, a weak-willed but good-hearted Proust fan who is cheating on his wife as his mother creeps closer to death, agrees to the Nazi proposal but continues to dither and grumble about things to his Jewish friend (Jason Isaacs), a psychoanalyst.
While both Mortensen and Isaacs turn in strong performances, the movie has nothing new to say as the novelist gets pulled deeper into the vortex. It turns out that along with the writing gig, he has also accepted a commission as an SS officer that he incorrectly assumed to be a ceremonial appointment.
Mortensen's character drifts along on the winds of genocide, but never develops or even seems fully aware of what's going on. Around him we get appropriately sickening glimpses of the Third Reich's bland monstrosity - officers at a death camp refer to their captives as "items" being "processed," and the novelist visits a vast, immaculate hall of records that contains precisely notated records of the Holocaust's victims. But this is all very familiar material.
A couple of surreal elements that come in out of nowhere add to the general senselessness of the film, which is heading for a cosmic shrug in a final, exasperating scene in which the dithering protagonist is wandering stiffly around a death camp. It's like a vision of C-3PO in hell.