Monday, October 10, 2011

The Tourist

By s. Monday, October 10, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(103 min, 2010)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (screenplay), Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)
Stars: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Paul Bettany

Catch them if you can.

Elise (Angelina Jolie) sits next to an American tourist, Frank (Johnny Depp), on a train going to Venice. She has chosen him as a decoy, making believe that he is her lover who is wanted for police. Not only will they need to evade the police, but also the mobster whose money her lover stole.

“The Tourist” is one of the most criticized movies of last year. When it received three Golden Globe nominations – for best motion picture – comedy, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp it also got a tremendous amount of backlash from the public. The movie failed in box office and many reviewers complained that the film is boring and that it contains Johnny Depp's worst performance. Was it all deserved? After watching the movie I have to say no.

I had very low expectations – in fact I just wanted to watch this film to check if it's as bad as everyone keeps saying and to stare at lovely Jolie, who in my mind is one of the most strikingly beautiful actresses to ever grace cinema screen with their presence. What I saw was not a bad movie – it was fun, entertaining and despite quite a weak script, very watchable and far from being boring.

The performances are good. Depp is even worthy of his nomination, but this may just as easily be due to lack of competition in this particular category. He is plausible as ordinary guy, he is funny, clumsy and he delivers the best lines (like when Elise gets out of her room, looking stunning and Frank exhales “fuck!”). It's definitely not his best performance, but he is far from being bad. Jolie does good job at playing mysterious Elise, but any skill she shows here is easily overshadowed by her beauty. When she goes into a room everyone stares at her and for a good reason – the last time she looked that amazing was in “Gia”. She is freakishly skinny, but she still manages to look beautiful. It's surprising that elegant clothes and sophistication suit her as well as guns and Lara Croft's shorts.

The script has many twists and turns and it loses its way along the way many times. There are holes, evident even with first viewing. But the surprises still manage to do the trick and despite the fact everyone in the movie has hidden agenda of their own the viewer never gets lost in his own confusion. The action scenes are not typical big budget-chase-explosion style, but they are more leveraged and plausible. The main characters are quite peculiar for the genre – Elise doesn't carry a gun, she doesn't kill anyone in cold blood, as it usually is in thrillers. Frank is clumsy, but he has a mind of his own. The rest is rather stereotypical – bad guy, dirty cop, someone being simply a red herring, but Paul Bettany's agent. who is trying to catch Elise's lover, is an exception – he delivers many funny lines and manages not to fade away from the memory immediately after seeing the film.

One of the biggest assets of the movie is Venice. What a beautiful place and shot in a very pleasing matter, too. The cinematography is subtle, but unfortunately, far from original. The music by James Newton Howard adds to the film's delicate and classy style. What I liked is that the romance is very old-fashioned. I don't know how much truth is in a rumor that Vanessa Paradis, Depp's partner, objected to sex scene between him and Jolie – needless to say that such scene is not present in the movie. There are only tender kisses, dancing and looking deeply into each other eye. The pairing of Jolie and Depp must have been a wet dream for Hollywood producers for a long time now, given how big of stars they are. But they didn't think it through – it would be hard to find two more actors working nowadays who can carry the movie completely on their own – they are always so individualistic on screen and the audience comes to theater to see them. More often than not, we don't remember who else was in their movies. They have very strong personalities, they are on the covers of magazines and their private life is a subject of gossip for years now. That's also a big disadvantage – when we watch them, we never forget it's Depp and Jolie we're seeing, not their characters. And their individualism and strength have frequently destroyed any chance for chemistry with opposite sex on screen. Depp managed to have something that can be called chemistry with Mation Cotiliard in “Public Enemies”, but with Angelina...well, I suppose there were tiny sparks between her and Clive Owen in “Beyond Borders”. But in those movie there is one commanding, strong man and a woman that loves him. Here, in “The Tourist”, the romance is between a clumsy teacher and delicate, mysterious woman. It lacks passion and it also lacks chemistry. When they say “I love you” there is no chance anyone can believe them and we know they themselves don't believe in this either.

However, “The Tourist” is still fun movie, far from being a great film, but it's entertaining – funny, stylish, filled with luxury and beauty of the stars. It won't make a lasting impression, but at least you won't be bored whilst watching it.


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