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The Tourist (2010)

1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie use their star power to help propelThe Touristto its ultimate, satisfying destination. It just takes a little while to get there. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) sets a leisurely pace forThe … see full wiki

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1 review about The Tourist (2010)

Hybrid Hiccup

  • Dec 13, 2010
In "The Tourist," director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck does his best to recreate the great suspense films of the late 50s. Think Technicolor Hitchcock starring Cary Grant in "North By Northwest" or "To Catch a Thief" where the locale becomes a character and the plot relies on the whimsy and romantic persona of the lead male actor and his seemingly magnetic talent to attract primo women. Perhaps, von Donnersmarck feels that Johnny Depp with his quirky ability to masquerade as a multitude of oddball personalities (Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean Collection franchise, Dean Corso in The Ninth Gate and more recently The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland) can emulate the insouciance and nerdy nonchalance of Roger Thornhill and John Robie, both Cary Grant creations. If, additionally and in the same sense, Angelina Jolie can totter in the 4 inch heels of the mysterious fashionistas Grace Kelly and Eva Marie Saint with their knowing ability to manipulate their men and conquer their worlds effortlessly, the film would come together as both a homage and modern take on the classic thriller where through the error of mistaken identity, an average innocent person is hurtled into a life threatening situation that inevitably rocks his world romantically for the better.

"The Tourist" has all the right ingredients, but manages to fall short with perhaps too much editing and not enough background story. The chemistry between the leads is meant to sizzle and relay to the audience just why one does anything for love. However, some of the motivating factors are never spelled out or revealed with any anticipation or impact. Sadly, the result seems a waste of talent and a film that doesn't intelligently scintillate as its advertising promises.

In this case, Depp plays the innocent being led into the slaughter by femme fatale Jolie. As with the Hitchcockian leads, their universe of espionage sparkles with the beauty of exotic locale--"Tourist" amply utilizes the Renaissance splendor of the Doge's Venice, scenes of luxurious hotels, glittering ballrooms and enchanted waterways as well as the elegant bustle of Paris where old world meets new at the immense Gare de Lyon for another classic innuendo-filled interlude on the TGV. Grant and Kelly in a coupe on Monaco's famous hairpin turns are swapped for Depp and Jolie en water taxis traversing the canals of La Serenissima. They all clean up nicely, donning tuxedos and gowns for the obligatory ballroom scene where the innocent has his "ah-ha" moment and accepts his new heroic role, cleverly driving the plot to its climatic scene and satisfying aftermath.

Perhaps, director von Donnersmarck, feels that like the audiences of the 50s and early 60s, audiences today, tired of the austerity ensuing from financial insecurity, wish to return to an escapist genre of beautiful films featuring extravagantly dressed women and men with money to burn and an almost derogative nonchalance regarding its worth. If this is so, to pull it all off more tightly, where the glitz of his locale and his two stars accent the story to perfection, he has a few things to reconsider.

His leads must balance their elegance with a humanness that the audience feels and applauds. Jolie is beautiful--her slim body draped in spectacular clothes that cause men and women both to stare unabashedly as she passes by like a reigning queen may seem a little overdone, but not completely unreasonable. She is, after all, Angelina Jolie--so, why wouldn't we look? As Elise, she doesn't speak much--just looks confidant, slinking through Paris and Venice, knowing full well wherever she goes she will be well received. And, why not? Nonetheless, despite this obvious perfection, when she taunts Depp with luminous eyes that suggest her struggle between the allegiance of career and the overwhelming tour de force that is love, she seems overly controlled--more a study of a woman in love rather than the actual being. Jolie's performance aptly illustrates the difficulty to convey the rush associated with love and the ability to remain coolly elegant.

Depp can be mischievously attractive--but Cary Grant he is not. Jack Sparrow, yes. But, he has his moments where the audience laughs out loud. His jaunt across the Venice rooftops (again in homage to "To Catch a Thief") emulates Jack Sparrow slowly and comically sinking in his dinghy when we first lay eyes on him in the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. However, in "Tourist" this farce of Depp in his PJs running for his life confuses rather than amuses. Nonetheless, Depp as the archetypical Scamp charms us effortlessly; it is always a pleasure watching a good-looking man with a self-deprecating attitude win while in a situation with the odds stacked against him. Depp doesn't have his usual crazy range to fall back on; he seems to be holding back--trying for restraint to not give too much away and unfortunately loosing too much of the whacky persona the audience wishes most to see.

The secondary characters work better. Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton are both delicious as Scotland yard personnel. They blunder well while impeccably dressed, but other than the fact that as police on a case, the audience is not privy to the almost manic drive of Bettany to get his man. The relationship between Bettany and his superior Dalton calls to mind Clousseau and Chief Inspector Dreyfus--even though "Tourist" thinks of itself as a different type of film when compared to Blake Edward's The Pink Panther Film Collection (The Pink Panther / A Shot in the Dark / Strikes Again / Revenge of / Trail of) series.

But perhaps that is where Tourist fails. Maybe it should be whackier. Maybe Depp should have been allowed to channel a different type of innocent--one with Jack Sparrow's ruthless sense of humor and unconventional mores. The hybrid nature of "Tourist" bewilders the audience into thinking something more is on its way that never quite arrives once the plot settles into the familiar ground that Hitchcock does way better.

From the Hitchcockian standpoint, the storyline of "Tourist" may be a little weak with not enough moments between Jolie and Depp to make their more profound attraction more believable. Think Eva Marie Saint, Cary Grant and that tunnel in North by Northwest. Whoa what a ride! Eva is on a mission, but she cannot help but be charmed. In her attempt to be `the mystery woman,' Jolie seems to struggle a bit--trying too hard to be imperturbable, the audience does not always see her vulnerability and it wants to feel the chemistry. In this regard, the interlude on the train should have been more provocative, perhaps with some flashbacks to the Jolie character's affair with the infamous Alexander Pierce to show her confusion over her attraction to Depp and the allegiance she still feels for her lover.

The city of Venice anoints the film with the benediction of its scintillating beauty and director of photographer, John Seale, can hardly ask for a better backdrop or assignment. However, the city itself has mysteries of its own that could have been integrated into the story to make going to Venice less of a advertised travelogue and more the final destination culminating not only the Scotland Yard investigation, but the affair of the heart. Somehow with more thought to the film's genre identity, as well as to the various factions of the story, the whole film would have benefited as a more adroitly crafted entertainment.

Bottom line? "The Tourist" attempts to recreate the mood of the late 50s Hitchcockian thriller/romance with two attractive leads whose chemistry drives the action. At the same time, some whacky moments intervene that suggest a tug towards the crazy comedy of the Pink Panther series. Because this film does not know which genre it is trying to emulate, it fails on both levels. Depp and Jolie try to pull it off by being beautiful people in the wondrous setting of Venice. However, every once and a while, this reviewer wanted to see Depp in a madman's disguise--with that incredible braid in his beard and that twinkle in his eye. Along those same lines, Beauty, as personified by Jolie, requires some chink in the amour of perfection--less polished tones and more passionate screaming. Recommended nevertheless for its abundant display of the glories of Venice.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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The Tourist

A 2010 film starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.

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