Monday, January 3, 2011

The Tourist - Adequately Entertaining

One of my many faults is that I occasionally get jittery, anxious, panicky. For no apparent reason. Or, there probably is a reason but I choose to ignore it, with my chosen method of forgetting that I feel nauseous with nerves: by going to the movies.

I can thank my paternal side of the family for those two attributes, both the obsession with the cinema and the at times questionable emotional stability. My grandfather made special trips from his home in Rancagua in Chile to the capital of Santiago specifically to make sure he saw films like The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange (which was his favourite film, I'm told). Apparently this sort of devotion to devouring the latest releases was typical of my grandad. So I guess it's little surprise that whether I be happy, sad, sick, bored or otherwise, chances are I'll be in the mood to go to the movies.

The mood to hit the cinematorium hit me today, having not only the day off work but also a bad case of the jitters. What to see? I checked the session times at my local and was a little disappointed. I'd already seen Blue Valentine, The King's Speech, Harry Potter, Agora isn't playing there anymore, and the vast majority of other films that were playing didn't interest me in the slightest. I cursed suburbia, and picked The Tourist. Directed by Florian Henkel von Donnersmarck (isn't that a wonderful name?), who was at the helm of The Lives of Others, co-written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), and starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, I felt it would be (at the very least), an entertaining piece of Hollywood escapism.

In a nutshell, my expectations were pretty much accurate.

The Tourist is entertaining. It's fun. The two stars are incredibly easy on the eye, as is Venice, where the majority of the film takes place. Two things the film certainly achieved were thus: it made me long to return to Venice (as well as Paris). It also made me constantly swoon at the sight of Mr Depp. Fun fact: he's my dad's age. Isn't that freaky? Freaky yes, also affirmation that specimens like Johnny Depp only improve with age. If Mr Depp is what you're after, The Tourist won't disappoint. 

If you're after a thriller on par with The Usual Suspects, you probably will be disappointed. Angelina Jolie plays Elise Clifton-Ward, a woman being constantly followed by various police forces around the world. Namely, by Scotland Yard's Paul Bettany. He's after Alexander Pearce, Elise's lover. Or is it husband? I can't remember. At any rate, traveling from Paris to Venice she deliberately runs into American tourist Frank Tupelo, a math teacher from Wisconsin. Thus, intrigue and an increasingly improbable plot ensues. 

About half an hour or so into the film I found myself thinking that I could imagine The Tourist in black and white, made in the 50s. Perhaps starring Gregory Peck. Beautiful, mysterious woman gets quiet yet quick-witted and attractive man involved in international intrigue also starring gangster types. It'd work, no? 

Anyway. Like I said, The Tourist is entertaining. Jolie obviously shines as the beautiful and mysterious Elise (my, aren't her lips big!). Depp (and I might be a little biased here) is great as the initially awkward yet increasingly confident Frank. The script at times has an enjoyably sly sense of humour. Yet there's something missing. The action never really reaches the kind of climax one wants. I found myself not caring quite enough about Elise. I suppose my expectations hadn't been exceptionally high to begin with so I did find the entire jaunt quite entertaining but at the same time The Tourist was kind of on the "instantly forgettable" end of the spectrum. Easy on the eye, fun, but also lacking. 

On the other hand, I had gone to the movies to be transported to a world of a fantastical Hollywood story. You know, in the old sense of it. Improbable story, starring gorgeous leads in a grand adventure. That's what it delivered, and I guess with that in mind, to me it succeeded. 

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