Rating: 4 of 5
The Tourist is a nearly flawless film. Which is not to say it’s the best move I’ve ever seen, or great or wonderful or epic. It simply means there wasn’t anything wrong with it, nothing that could have been done better. Though, flawless is the best compliment I can pay film.
Because for almost every movie there is something that could have been done better, some miscalculation in direction or editing, a weak performance or a mismanaged script, some casting blunder or something. So, when a movie has a strong script, which is the best that it can be given the premise, it doesn’t have to be the smartest or funniest or most brilliant thing ever written. It just has to be the best *it* can be.
And The Tourist is. It’s a lovely mix of silliness and intrigue and romance. The bad guy isn’t who you expect, or at least not completely. There’re two conceits that you kind of have to just accept (the van and the train), but they’re small and everything else is so fun, I’m perfectly willing to accept them.
The characters are enjoyable and plausible. I kind of loved Elise immediately. It doesn’t hurt that she’s Angelina Jolie, who I kind of adore. I think it struck me after the cafe when she’s walking to the train station. And I thought about being this woman, a woman of elegance and means but the thing that makes her so interesting is her familiarity with intrigue. What is it to be the woman a spy loves, the one the international man of mystery shares his secrets with? To be pursued and watched but never captured, because they don’t want you, they just want to see inside your world, to know what you know? That would be kind of a cool woman to be.
And beyond that, Elise gives Angelina the chance to show some vulnerability, to be strong but not action fierce, to be alluring and bold. I love on the train when she tells Frank, I want you to be the kind of man who does what he wants without apology. Women love boldness. or at least I do. And when she’s coaching him to invite her to dinner, the balance between not asking a question and not demanding. It was kind of awesome. But then that woman of determined strength was also soft and lovely when she was admitting that she loves Alexander but doesn’t like being summoned. It’s really a fun character.
Frank: You look ravenous.
Elise: Do you mean ravishing?
Frank was blundering and endearing but also strong sometimes, and then a very tender sort of strong when he was asking her about the man in her heart. My favorite bit, even from the preview was his bit with the Italian police:
Inspector: So you want to report a murder.
Frank: Attempted murder.
Police: Well, that’s not so serious.
Frank: Not when you downgrade it from murder. But when you upgrade it from room service it’s quite serious.
It didn’t play out exactly like that in the film, but it’s the gist of it and quite fun. I can’t imagine anyone but Johnny Depp being able to really pull that character off.
Paul Bettany really played his character with a certain insidiousness. It only came out here and there, but it set quite the tone between him and Elise and was well done.
There were a couple of slow shots or inserts that were kind of unnecessary, but for the most part the directing was good. and the music was good. It was beautifully shot, with great light and colors and really utilizing Venice.
So, yes, nearly flawless film because there’s really nothing I would have done differently or could have done better. The Tourist is a fun, intriguing, elegant, occasionally funny romp through a movie and I really enjoyed it.