More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
3.69

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

3 reviews, 24 user ratings



Quiet American, The (2002)
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by BMW Joe

"Not terrible, but not great either..."
3 stars

The stakes are never that high, and it feels as if Sir Michael Caine is coasting through this film, and since the entire film really falls on his shoulders, it makes for a tepid and rather flaccid viewing experience.

In college I took a class on Vietnam, specifically U.S. literature that dealt with the Vietnam conflict. One of the books assigned was of course Graham Greene’s classic novel about early U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia upon which Philip Noyce’s film is based. Unfortunately, it was one of the only books I didn’t read, but like a lot of college students was still able to fudge my way through the class with Cliff Notes, etc.
In discussion of this film, it is a good thing, I can’t fall back on my memory of what a great novel "The Quiet American" was and instead can judge the film on it’s own terms. I went in to this film with very high expectations as it’s been a weak year for me as a film goer, and having seen Michael Caine declare this is the best work of his career, how can I go wrong? Well, while this film is not terrible, it’s not great either. Caine mails in another one of his… well, Michael Caine performances. I’ve always thought he was a bit of a lazy actor and I can’t say he did anything to change my mind here.

The story is basically one of an older man, Thomas Fowler, a stand in for the author, Graham Greene (Michael Caine) who is a journalist living Vietnam (actually French IndoChina) who has a much younger indigenous girlfriend named Phoung (Do Thi Hai Yen). Caine’s apple cart is upset when a young American, Alden Pyle, played by Brendan Fraser comes to Saigon and befriends Caine’s character. A triangular relationship forms and it doesn’t take long to figure out the young Vietnamese woman becomes symbolic of Vietnam itself, while Caine and Fraser represent the Colonial powers fighting over her. In reality, it turns out Fraser is indeed working for the CIA trying to win over “the hearts and minds” as the phrase will become used by the Johnson administration during the height of the conflict some years later.

The real stellar work that is done in this film is by Brendan Fraser, once again showing he’s a skillful team player, setting up a much older actor for an Academy Award as he did with Sir Ian McKellan, (come to think of it it should be Sir Michael Caine as well.) Fraser plays his duplicitous character incredibly well. He comes off as an inept bumbler, incredibly naďve, and love stricken with Caine’s girlfriend, only to reveal his true, chilling colors by the end of the film. Fraser’s idealogy indeed may be naďve, but the results of his convictions are chilling if not lethal.

There is no question this film couldn’t be more timely given the quagmire the U.S. maybe stepping into in the Middle East. However, much like Doubya, Caine’s character doesn’t seem to be too thoughtful or engaged with the consequences of involvement in Vietnam. Like his assistant says, you have to take a stand, and eventually he does after witnessing the horrific results of Fraser’s (and America’s) anti- communist zealotry. What Fraser brings to his character is a mindset, however dangerous it may be, whereas Caine seems to wander around in a fog. Indeed, his characetr is an opium addict, and in fact, that is the idea of this character, he has been sitting on the fence. However, what Caine (nor Noyce’s direction) fails to bring to role is any kind of life in his character’s mind, what is going on inside, is there a fire burning underneath, any sort of conviction, any remnant of what made this man tick. Contrast this with Russel Crowe’s Jeffery Wigand in Michael Mann’s brilliant film “The Insider”. Crowe is able to communicate so much with so little, there is a whole symphony of emotions and conflicts going on inside Crowe’s Wigand. That is excatly what is necessary here, unfortunately Caine communicates too little with too little. The stakes are never that high, and it feels as if Sir Michael Caine is coasting through this film, and since the entire film really falls on his shoulders, it makes for a tepid and rather flaccid viewing experience.

I’ve always thought he (Michael Caine) was a bit of a lazy actor and I can’t say he did anything to change my mind here.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6362&reviewer=319
originally posted: 03/05/03 19:17:58
[printer] printer-friendly format  

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
5/25/08 PAUL SHORTT I'M NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT THIS FILM THINKS ITS ABOUT 1 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  22-Nov-2002 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Jan-2003




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast