Christoph Waltz directs and acts in the right direction, if only the story didn’t explode.

Christoph Waltz makes his directorial debut, under the name of C. Waltz, of “Georgetown,” which is based on the true story about the murder of the Washington socialite Viola Herms Drath. David Auburn wrote the screenplay, adapted from Franklin Foer’s New York Times Magazine article, entitled “The Worst Marriage in Georgetown.” It only works when Waltz provides the ambition and direction, and guides himself, Vanessa Redgrave, Annette Bening, and Corey Hawkins on various grounds. Preventing me from recommending the film is its story, which gets convoluted and goes all over the place.

In “Georgetown,” Waltz directs himself as Ulrich Mott, a brigadier general in the Iraqi Special Forces, who also lives as a social climber, and marries the wealthy journalist widow Elsa Bracht (Vanessa Redgrave) in Washington. The old lady is found murdered, and Mott is willing to bring her killers to justice. However, since there was no evidence of any break-ins, and there an assault cases against him in New York City, Mott could be labeled a suspect, and he can’t return to her home, during the investigation process. The police are called this a homicide investigation.

Before her murder, we see Elsa in a miserable state, but Ulrich is the one who brought some joy back in her life. She left Germany for America to find better opportunities, including raising her Harvard professor daughter Amanda (Annette Benning), and supporting Mott’s Eminent Person’s Group.

Amanda (Annette Bening) is against their relationship, because of their age difference and has no idea who he could possible be. And after the murder, the daughter accuses Mott of her murdering her mother. His defense attorney is Daniel Volkner (Corey Hawkins), and even he is astonished that Mott says he went for a walk for several hours at night. His excuse is that he is too busy in the morning and wants to work off his dinner. Given his personality and actions, I don’t even think I can trust Mott.

The story goes all over the place with the past and present jumping back and forth and the countless situations happening, so it’s often difficult to stay completely focused on them. A scene that sounds hammy is when Elsa comes in on Mott sleeping with another man in a hotel. The way they react sounds like they’re forced and not sincere.

Outside that scene, we see Waltz, Redgrave, and Bening providing some fine performances with the right convictions. I admire the style and charisma Waltz directs in himself, the delicacy in Redgrave’s performance, and the anger in Bening’s character. In the courtroom scene, you can see the fire in Bening’s eyes when she sees Waltz in the defendant seat. Half of the movie shines because of the acting, while the other half confuses me with its political, military, and relationship problems, regarding the main protagonist.

“Georgetown” has the potential to be an impressive directorial debut for Waltz because of its performances and style. If it cut back on the convoluted narrative and told the true story like it is, it might have easily been a better film. I’m not familiar with this real-life story, so I can’t really compare and contrast. But if you do know the story, please explain to me form your perspectives.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4.

In Select Theaters and On Demand

Categories: Biography, Crime, Drama

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