Friday, March 25, 2011

Quick Look: THE TOURIST

Glamour should rarely be the sole purpose of a film, but in the case of The Tourist it’s very nearly enough. This is a laid back comic thriller with beautiful people in beautiful places. There’s Angelina Jolie as some kind of stylish criminal and Johnny Depp as a seemingly bumbling everyman. (There are also some nice supporting roles for the likes of Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton). Together they become entangled, perhaps purposefully so, in all kinds of international espionage that takes place against the backdrop of stunning European scenery starting in Paris and ending up in Venice. Following up his heavy 2006 Oscar winning Stasi thriller The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck capably directs with light professionalism. He’s a solid craftsman who should direct more often, if only for the pleasure of seeing his lengthy credit stretch out across the entire wide screen. The Tourist is all fizz, but it’s prime fizz. The screenplay by von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, and Julian Fellowes, Oscar winners all, is a bit of a prestige-hued mess, but it’s on the whole a delightful throwback, perhaps even homage, to the lighter side of Hitchcock. I was reminded not entirely unfavorably of To Catch a Thief, a similarly enjoyably thin exercise in style, star power and glamour. When The Tourist arrived last December, it was generally derided by critics and considered a flop domestically (though it’s been quite the hit in international markets), but now it’s easier to see that all the fuss was misguided. This is not, by any means, a great movie, but it has enough diverting pleasure to entertain. It’s a classy popcorn star vehicle with plenty of beauty and surface contentment. The last shot is a nice Freudian sight gag served up with a line that could be seen, with a wink and a shrug, as the film’s summation of its own quality: “It’ll do.”

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