Film: The Tourist
Cast includes: Jonny Depp (Edward Scissorhands), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code)
Writer/Director: Florian Henkel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others)
Genre: Action/Romance (2010)
In brief: She knows she’s being watched. When Elise sits in a Parisian café, a courier delivers a letter on AP stationary… Alexander Pierce. Elise is instructed to go to Gare de Lyon and take the 8:22 train. She’s to “pick someone my height and build, and make them believe it’s me.” Elise sets fire to the letter, gets up and goes directly to Gare de Lyon for the 8:22 train to Venice. We learn that Inspector Acheson of Scotland Yard has been following Elise, hoping she’ll lead them to Alexander Pierce. They believe that with ₤744 million in illegal assets, Pierce has used some to buy himself a new face and new identity. They need Elise to lead them to Pierce.
The gorgeous Elise slowly walks down the aisle of the train looking for her Pierce stand-in. That’s when she comes to Frank, reading a spy novel. “That’s a terrible name,” she says when he introduces himself. He asks about her, and she replies, “You read spy novels. I’m a mysterious woman on a train… you tell me what my story is.” So Frank, a math teacher from Wisconsin, invents a story for Elise. It feels quite real, especially when Frank notices, “I have a strange feeling those two are watching us.” “I think you’re right,” she responds. They say goodbye at Venezia Santa Lucia, but before Frank has gotten his bearings, Elise reappears in a private water taxi. “Frank, do you want to come with me?” Of course he does… and they’re off to Hotel Danieli. That’s when we find out Inspector Acheson isn’t the only one trying to find Pierce… and the others appear to be gangsters.
Enjoying footage of Angelina Jolie in Venice is the primary attraction of this movie. It’s a very nice looking film! It’s a throwback to the classic films of the 1960s… Charade comes to mind… in which a beautiful heroine eludes danger in a beautiful location. As in the films of the 60s, the dialog is nicely clever… although it would be even nicer if the clever bits were more plentiful. There are lots of improbable twists and turns, making this film a fun ride if you’re willing to transport yourself back to a more glamorous, frivolous era. When Frank, wearing his striped pajamas, manages to escape the gangsters in a rooftop chase, the police tell him it’s not murder… it just attempted murder. “It may not be that serious when you downgrade it from murder. But when you upgrade it from room service, it’s quite serious.” I was nostalgic for Audrey and Cary.
2 popped kernels
A fun throwback to the glamorous adventure films of the 1960s
Primary Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: High-end production
Character Development: Engaging
Social Significance: Pure entertainment