American tourist Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) is on an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart. On the train from Paris to Venice he is unexpectedly joined by the mysterious and beautiful Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), who proceeds to drag him along to her hotel. All this is part of a plan Elise is following on orders from her lover in hiding, Alexander Pearce, who has stolen millions from the shadowy Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) a British crime figure. It's not just Shaw chasing Pierce; Interpol are also after him.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Unlike most films made these days, The Tourist is shot with some classic cinematic values intact, including the splendid cinematography by Aussie John Seale. We are not distracted from Angelina Jolie's beauty and smarts or from Johnny Depp's charm and intelligence by a camera left in the hands of a drunken sailor (that's an in joke for John Seale) and we get to see all the action, the romance and the chases in fine and full detail.
The Tourist is a crime thriller with a light, witty touch, the sort of film Alfred Hitchcock might have made ... which is exactly what Oscar winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wants us to think, since To Catch a Thief is specifically his Hitchcockian reference for this film. In tone, that is. Note the romantic tension scenes in the opulent Hotel Danieli in Venice, soon after Elsie and Frank's first encounter on the train. And think back on that at the end of the film to see how clever that is. Likewise their meeting on the train. Meticulously planned, just like the decoy role that Frank has to play.
The story is a clever reworking of the award winning 2005 French thriller, Anthony Zimmer, with Sophie Marceau and Yvan Attal. But it's not the same; Donnersmarck has fashioned it in his own quirky image with his homage to Hitchcock.
Depp and Jolie are a terrific screen pair, given plenty of opportunities to show their acting chops in this double twisting story. Undercover or under stress, Jolie is never under dressed, floating in gorgeous gowns from Paris to Venice. So she should be, with a millionaire boyfriend who prearranges expensive gifts and complete wardrobes for her as she follows his instructions while he is on the run.
Donnermarck's light touch doesn't destroy the film's tension, though, and with baddies played by the likes of Steven Berkoff, we are never quite comfortable that all will end well. And that's the secret: we must be on edge for the duration, or the film collapses.
James Newton Howard provides an effective score (Hitch would have liked it, too) and we get great slices of Venice - by day and also by night - which is no bad thing. Perhaps these days it's a better way to see it than on foot ....
This is enjoyable escapist fare of the highest order, and a world away from Donnersmarck's Best Foreign Language Oscar winning The Lives of Others (2006). Not only does it have a wonderfully intriguing opening sequence, it has a great ending.
Review by Louise Keller:
Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Venice - what more could you want in a movie destination? Needless to say, glamour is in plentiful supply and German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck creates a delicious tone rife with mystery, suspense and romance, tossing in a few red herrings and twists for good measure. There's humour too between the thrilling chases and romantic whimsy as the ultimate scam unfolds. Based on the French thriller Anthony Zimmer, The Tourist is as frivolously alluring as his Oscar winner The Lives of Others (2006) is heartwrenching. It is sophisticated and timeless entertainment, whose light-as-a-soufflé façade is no easy feat to successfully achieve.
Because the look of the film is so critical, it is not surprising that von Donnersmarck has recruited Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale to showcase its jewel-like visuals - from the air, the waterways, over rooftops and in its grand hotels. Venice looks breathtaking bathed in sunlight, canals sparkling as brightly as Murano chandeliers and Jolie's jewels. Jolie's outfits are spectacular too if you can prise your eyes away long enough from her beautiful features. But she is much more than a pretty face and she and Depp make an enticing couple, from the moment she sees him on the Paris to Venice train reading a spy novel and when their banter begins amid double entendres. Elise Clifton-Ward's motives? To find someone with the same build and features as her notorious thief-lover Alexander Pearce to put her pursuers off the scent.
Paul Bettany's Scotland Yard Inspector delivers a juicy mix of obsession, frustration and exasperation into his delivery, while Steven Berkoff's ruthless gangster Reginald Shaw is chillingly good. That scene in the tailor's shop, when Shaw is being fitted for an expensive suit, shows us in a matter of centimetres that class is something money simply cannot buy. But the film is essentially all Depp and Jolie as they teeter on a seesaw of shifting control and indulge in role playing, daring and passion.
Our journey is made through Depp's everyman maths teacher Frank from Wisconsin, who can find no greater compliment than to tell his seductive mystery woman she is the least down to earth person he has ever met. Embrace both sides is the meaning of the emblem on the bracelet that she wears and there's a mist of intrigue shrouding Elise, as her relationship with Frank takes sudden leaps and U-turns. Meanwhile guns, knives, hot pursuits over rooftops and a night-time canal chase transpire. James Newton Howard's score drums up tension but never overpowers the action. For those who bemoan they don't make films like they used to - with plot, storyline and audacity, this one is for you. In its own way, The Tourist is the modern equivalent of Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief - the perfect holiday film for those in search of beauty, a whiff of mystery with a soupçon of danger.
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JOHN SEALE INTERVIEW
TOURIST, THE (M)
CAST: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell, Bruno Wolkowitch, Mhamed Arezki
DIRECTOR: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
SCRIPT: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes (original screenplay Anthony Zimmer by Jerome Salle)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Seale
EDITOR: Joe Hutshing, Patricia Rommel
MUSIC: James Newton Howard
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Hutman
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2010
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.