Posted by: greercn | December 18, 2010

The Tourist

If  either Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp feels like giving me a really thoughtful Christmas present this year, they could promise me that they will never, ever attempt to do a British accent in a movie again. Really. Execrable does not carry the required strength of adjective required. Dick Van Dyke’s attempt in “Mary Poppins” is less risible. They both need to stop.

Apart from that, there’s a great deal to like in this amiable caper movie.  The slimline plot is that Angelina plays Elise, who is in Paris. Her mysterious boyfriend Alexander (wanted for financial crimes in 14 countries) sends her a note to pick up someone who is the same height and build as him, while she is on a train to Venice. The hope is that this will distract the police of three countries and some cool British and Russian baddies from looking for Al.

Johnny plays Frank, an American teacher of mathematics, who is selected for the impersonation. Johnny’s soft Southern US accent does not suit the back story given to him at all. But you get over that quickly.

Venice looks very pretty, of course. Boats of many types glide by and there’s a fun chase scene, on the water. There are no ugly homes or hotels in this. Everything glistens.

Something strange has happened to Angelina and Johnny – apart from the fact that they have no romantic chemistry and appear to be two great friends out on a field trip together. Johnny channels a fat Jim Morrison (although he isn’t fat; puzzling) and his girlie face looks rather puffy. Angelina looks like she has been freeze-dried and her beautiful features express very little. Odd, because Ange looked great in “Salt” and Johnny looks lovely in the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” trailers.

Ange seems to be a less pretty and animated variant on the young Joan Collins. Joan Collins does this look with style and grace; why copy badly?

Director and co-writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was responsible for the glorious “The Lives of Others” in 2007. This is clearly his aim at the big time Hollywood game. Others have expressed disappointment at this film, but I only looked at my watch once. Pulchritude has its place and this is chock full of prettiness.

There is able support from Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff and Rufus Sewell. The problem is that I saw the three key plot twists within the first 10 minutes of the movie starting. That did not spoil my enjoyment.

The music features the best use of my beloved “Muse” in any movie I have seen. All the music is good. Where subtitles are required for French or Italian, these are excellent.

Yet the odd facial looks of both stars and some continuity challenges will annoy you. For example, in the first scene, Ange orders a plain butter croissant. This, the waiter hints, is her usual breakfast order. Yet the camera moves in front of her to a chocolate petit pain. Not the same thing at all. The eagle-eyed will appreciate quite a few bloopers like this.

It is based on the far superior French film “Anthony Zimmer” from 2005 which I have seen with about five other people in the entire world. That movie hums and fizzes with chemistry, romance and action.

But it’s fun and light and won’t trouble your sleep. The Stratford Picture House audience enjoyed it and laughed appreciatively at the right places. It was warm, on a very cold night. If the DVD is cheap, I will buy it.

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