After World War I, art dealer Max Rothman (John Cusack) makes the acquaintance of a sullen ex-soldier named Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor) who has an interest in art. Rothman is fictitious, but he’s emblematic of an entire group of people—urbane, confident, prosperous and Jewish—who will come to find this scummy little corporal to be their undoing. Writer and director Menno Meyjes swaddles his story in irony like a butcher salting pork; one irony he may not have intended is how quickly Rothman becomes a secondary character in his own story. From the time we see Hitler scowling in the Munich snow, we keep wanting to get back to that sour little loner with the ugly ideas. Cusack sharply portrays Rothman’s jaded, lost-generation intellectual cynicism, and Taylor humanizes Hitler without making him any less monstrous. J.L.