In some ways this movie is the cinematic equivalent of artificial insemination using a dead man’s swimmers. A.I. had been on Stanley Kubrick’s back, front, and middle burners at various times since the early seventies. For a while, it looked like it wouldn’t see the light of day until development hell froze over and, when Kubrick kicked it after completing Eyes Wide Shut, it seemed inevitable that A.I. would forever remain as Kubrick’s great “lost” project.
The Good Shepherd uses the classic form of the espionage thriller to depict the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency through the eyes of one character, Edward Wilson, himself a composite of several real figures in the early days of the American intelligence community. Despite its length, deliberate pacing and a central character that is not particularly sympathetic, this film is a compelling account of a crucial, little known part of American history.
I wonder if David Cronenberg was ever voted “Most Likely to Totally Creep People Out” back in high school. Certainly, as a director, the pressure-relief valve leading to the darkest, squirmiest parts of his brain seems to be stuck in the full-open position. His Dead Ringers did for trips to the gynecologist what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean.