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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.67%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 23.81%
Pretty Bad: 4.76%
Total Crap: 4.76%

3 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Quiet American, The (2002)
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by EricDSnider

"What is American willing to do to get what it wants?"
4 stars

As a title, "The Quiet American" becomes more ironic as the film progresses. It is about America's involvement in Vietnam in the 1950s, involvement that ultimately led to our fighting the Vietnam War, which I don't have to tell you was an extremely unfortunate turn of events.

It is 1952 and the Yankee in question, Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), is a humanitarian worker in Saigon, assisting villagers who are being harmed by the ongoing fighting between the French and the communists.

At the film's outset, however, he is dead. His friend, jaded journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), tells us in flashback how they met and what led to Pyle's death. Pyle was idealistic and young; Fowler didn't get involved, didn't form opinions. He merely reported what happened, cabling his stories back to England, where most of his readers didn't care what went on half a world away in Southeast Asia.

As told in flashback, Fowler has a wife in London who won't grant him a divorce; as a result, he cannot marry Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), the alluring Vietnamese woman he has lived with for years. Pyle enters their lives, enthusiastic and youthful, eager to learn from Fowler, and a little too eager to become acquainted with Phuong.

Thus begins a romantic triangle that is curiously genteel, at least on the surface. (At one point, Pyle proposes marriage to Phuong right in front of Fowler.) Underneath, it is a jagged metaphor for American involvement in Vietnam, and the transformations of the characters from good to bad symbolize the same thing. America, Vietnam -- everything's corruptible.

Caine's performance is vivid and expressive, by turns stoic and emotional. Fraser, the quintessential all-American guy, is well-cast as Pyle, a man who, like everyone else in the film, is more than what he seems.

Directed by Australian filmmaker Phillip Noyce ("Rabbit-Proof Fence," "Clear and Present Danger"), it's a skeptical film, one that asks what we -- as a nation, and as individuals -- are willing to do to get what we want. Through the gritty drama of the film comes the unsettling suggestion that the answer might be, "Anything."

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originally posted: 07/05/03 19:55:26
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User Comments

9/11/15 Anne caine a dried out old man, seemingly, and love interest flat,politically strong 2 stars
1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Interesting Story! 4 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger so much more could have been done. and better. it lacks something. but not scrpit. 3 stars
8/31/05 R.W. Welch Well polished opus on love and war in old Saigon, tho not box office stuff. 4 stars
6/01/05 al Pacino This movie and Book Blowed C0ck Fuck this shit 1 stars
1/28/04 Phil M. Aficionado Groenewegen has written my thougts exactly. Tells a story very well and with right mood. 4 stars
11/27/03 John a wonderful script beautifully shot and acted 5 stars
10/08/03 Quiet Voice Great movie, Caine set up Frasier to retaliate him courting his mistress. Cheap shot!!! 4 stars
8/29/03 May Q. Horney What, Stephen Groenewegen? A simple-minded propoganda film is exactly what this is! 2 stars
5/22/03 Desert Rat Asian cast was great! Frazier was a little weak tho. 4 stars
3/20/03 Andrew Carden Caine and Frazier Light Up The Screen In This Captivating Film. 5 stars
3/18/03 Shadaan Felfeli One of the better films of 2003. Caine and Do thi Ya Hein are good. 4 stars
3/12/03 Wendy great movie 5 stars
3/08/03 Nancy N. wasn't perfect, but the world's current politics make it a worthwhile film 4 stars
2/27/03 Beverly Cole The REAL naivety here - "Liberty is a western term", so communism may as well take over! 3 stars
2/22/03 Jim the movie geek Disappointing. Caine is, well, like Caine, nothing new, and the story has a soapie feel! 3 stars
2/22/03 Goofy Maxwell He spoke softly, but he didn't carry a big enough stick. 4 stars
2/20/03 Ronald Stone good dialog - best movie of 2003 4 stars
1/21/03 Aiken Drum Thought the love story was crap. Didn't feel anything for the characters. 3 stars
1/19/03 Matthew Smith a magnificent film, Michael Caine's best performance in a long time 5 stars
1/17/03 John Bale Greens novel admirably filmed, time and place captured. Aged Caine still remarkable 5 stars
12/23/02 Hany Kirolous a romantic movie with a political and moral dimensions 5 stars
12/04/02 Heather Great performance from Michael Caine and a searing indictment of US foreign policy in Nam 5 stars
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  22-Nov-2002 (R)



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