Film Reviews

THE TOURIST

By • Dec 18th, 2010 •

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Jolie stars as a frozen aristocratic and Depp is miscast. They show little interest in each other or charming the audience. There is no need or inclination to act.

Instead of actually reading the script, Jolie and Depp looked at their salaries, the location, the accommodations, and the clothes.

Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie, not looking her best but rather harsh) seems to entrance everyone she encounters. Her passing by is a blessing for the people privileged to be in her path. Elise is in Paris, being watched by an army of men. Every nod, movement of her hand, and faint smile is scrutinized. She is given a note, which she seductively and slowly opens. Everything Elise does has purpose, dignity, and an air of aristocratic pomp.

I wanted to mess her perfectly coiffed fake hair. I wanted a French kid to steal her purse and knock her to the ground.

The note says to take a train to Venice and make friends with someone who has the same height and build of her fugitive, vulgar rich lover, Pearce. On the train, everyone gasps at Elise as she glides through the cars. Why does she settle on a dumb-looking, tongue-tied tourist, community college math teacher Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp)? Why him?

Scotland Yard is hunting Elise’s lover, who stole billions of dollars from a thug, Shaw (Steven Berkoff). Pearce owes Britain taxes on the money and they want it. They have spent $8 million hunting him.

Why is Frank in Venice? Doesn’t he have a room reservation somewhere? Instead, after stumbling through a conversation with elegant Elise over a rail car dinner (The CASINO ROYALE train scene between Bond and Vesper Lynd was brilliant and takes pride of place honors), she takes him to her magnificent suite. It is filled with couture gowns and millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry. At such an exclusive hotel, there would be an attendant outside waiting to grant any desire, so when a gang of Russians with AK-47s pound at the door, I wondered about the hotel’s shoddy front desk staff. They don’t seem to care when Frank calls begging for help. Well, there goes the hotel’s reputation.

So Scotland Yard and the Russians now think, just as Elise and her phantom lover intend, that Frank is actually Elise’s lover done over by plastic surgery.

You would think Scotland Yard would do a more thorough check on Frank from Wisconsin. But no, they just look at his passport and say, “He’s not our guy. He’s a tourist.”

For reasons not made clear, except to allow Jolie and Depp to dance, they both arrive at a posh ball. How does a math teacher from Wisconsin know how to dance with such elegance?

There are no clever twists and the directing by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is wooden. The screenplay, by von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes and Jerome Salle (who wrote the French film ANTHONY ZIMMER which is the basis for THE TOURIST), is awkward and wholly contrived. The dialogue is terrible. They had the original to follow. What happened?

Jolie is now too famous to actually have to act. In fact, there are scenes where she looks like an amateur. I was embarrassed for her. As Marlon Brando famously said: “Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.”

We all know Depp prefers to play outrageous characters that we cannot judge because they are fantasy people we never encounter (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS all the way to Captain Jack Sparrow). Now I know why. Playing real people is tough! It takes work, research and expressing emotion. (Case in point: Nicole Kidman was considered box office poison after years of abandoning acting for fluff movie paychecks. Kidman had to lay off the botox and play a highly charged, emotional role in RABBIT HOLE to salvage her career.) Depp also looks terrible and the voice he has chosen for Frank is forced and uneasy – as if it was new to him.

The star power of Jolie and Depp will survive this kind of lazy, selfish junk. But for how long? We know they can both can afford a 3-month vacation in Venice, so for their fans, THE TOURIST is an insult.

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