The Quiet American (2002)

DVD Cover (Miramax)
Phillip Noyce Phillip Noyce
Michael Caine Michael Caine
Brendan Fraser Brendan Fraser
Thi Hai Yen Do Thi Hai Yen Do
Rade Serbedzija Rade Serbedzija
Tzi Ma Tzi Ma

7.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Drama, Period Film, Political Drama, Political Thriller, Thriller
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 11, 2005
FINALLY! After weeks and weeks of tying to score a preview of this film, I finally landed one. And, the wait was certainly worth it. Here is yet another addition to my list of the year's favorites, forcing earlier films that I loved so much, like "Signs" and "Changing Lanes" out of contention at all. This film is based on the work by the great Graham Greene and is as much a masterpiece as "The Bridge on the River Kwai" or "Apocalypse Now". That very bold statement out there, I shall descend into the chunk of my review.

Michael Caine (in his best performance to date) stars as Thomas Fowler, a British reporter living in Vietnam in the early 1950's. When he is summoned back home, he is reluctant to leave because he has fallen in love with a local woman named Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), and has grown to love the people of Vietnam. He wants to marry her, but cannot, because his wife will not grant him a divorce. One day, however, their lives change when a young American named Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser in his best performance to date) arrives. He claims to be in Vietnam on a medical mission, and quickly falls in love with Phuong. Thus, Pyle and Fowler begin their war for the heart of the young woman. Eventually, Fowler discovers that Pyle may not be who he claims. Then comes the murder plot, but I won't get any further into that right now. Now, the basics, in a very straight forward fashion...

WHAT I LIKED: Just about everything. Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser are brilliant. It was exceptionally nice to see Fraser stray from his usual goofy characters and go back to the same kind of thing that made his performance in "Gods and Monsters" so exhilarating. He has the talent, he just has to use it more often. The cinematography was excellent. This is as beautifully filmed as "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "A Passage to India", and made me wonder if David Lean had not directed this, instead of Phillip Noyce. I also thought the triangle between Caine, Fraser, and Yen, was well developed and filled with incredible tension and romance. Michael Caine may be getting older, but he is only getting better.

WHAT I DISLIKED: First off, let me say that, though I had some problems with the film, they were not nearly enough to make me give this anything less than a four pop review. SPOILER: In the first 10 minutes, we see Pyle dead. We know who won the fight for Phuong's heart. What we don't know is what role Fowler played in the death of the 'quiet American'. I thought this was maybe not the best thing to do. It took away a considerable amount of suspense, but there was still plenty to go around. I also thought that Phuong's character was poorly developed. For a majority of the film, she just sits there and looks pretty. She is given little with which to excel and I think this might have been one of the best films of the decade if her character had been more involved.

"The Quiet American" will not top my end of the year list, as "About Schmidt" was too miraculous, but it will certainly make the Top 10. I can say that because the year is almost over. Michael Caine will most certainly be nominated for an Oscar (he has already been nominated for a Golden Globe) and could potentially win it. He has received many accolades for his performance and they are all well deserved. Director Phillip Noyce has crafted a brilliant film in the tradition of the great David Lean. He also deserves recognition in the field of directing. I encourage everyone out there who has the slightest passion about cinema to try and find this film in a nearby theatre. It is worth the financial burden, I assure you. Tell them I sent you. You won't get a discount, but it will make me feel better. 10/10.
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