The Quiet American

A Film Review By Jason L. King

< Rating:Rated R for images of violence and some language
Starring: Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser
Directed By:Phillip Noyce

Final Grade:

One of the things I have learned over the last few years as a film critic is that you need to keep an open mind when ever attending a film. Many times, I have gone into films expecting nothing, and coming out with so much more. Other times, I go into a film hoping for something great, and skulk out of the theater and rush to my computer to try and tell my readers to avoid the latest monstrosity. Then at other times, I find a film that leaves me in awe, but not because it was perfect and spectacular, but because it was I became involved with the characters, and was gripped instantly by the plot. Such a film for me was The Quiet American. For those of you not of the reading type, (I hope there are not many) Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American years ago, and is a great read for those of you who get the chance to read it. The film however of the same name does an equally good job of portraying the life of Thomas Fowler and company.

The Quiet American is the story of British Writer Thomas Fowler, an aging journalist who is known for seeking out the truth in his stories. Finding the truth though can be hard if a reporter chooses sides, and so Fowler has always made sure he never takes a side. He has been living and reporting in Saigon for two years now, and has fallen in love with a beautiful Saigon girl named Phuong. But when a charming young American named Alden Pyle meets up with Fowler, he falls in love with Phuong and thus begins a love triangle between three one time friends. As Fowler and Pyle both search Saigon for their aspirations, the story unravels itself as we learn the truth behind Alden Pyle, Thomas Fowler and their war torn home of Saigon. Michael Caine was nominated for an Oscar in this role, which sadly enough he did not receive one. However, he did a tremendous job in this film. His portrayal of Fowler was gripping, and I enjoyed every minute. Caine had control of the screen in every scene he was in, and the energy and emotion that he brought to the film was outstanding. Caine was the perfect choice for Graham Greene’s Thomas Fowler character. As for his co-star, Brendan Fraser, I am sad to report that I wasn’t as impressed with him. In fact, I think that would be the reason I would dock the film a slight bit. Fraser tried his hand at a more serious role in this one, but unfortunately his past of being a “funny man” or better known as “The Mummy” star, makes him just a little odd for the role. Never the less he did do a great job and I found his performance to be a great compliment to Caine’s. If Fraser continues to find more serious roles, in the next few years, I think he could be a bigger star than what he is. The Quiet American proved that he has potential but is still a little rough around the edges.

Cinematically this film was a joy to watch as well. The sets, costumes and cinematography made you feel like you were part of the film, and were an easy visual favorite for me. The detail work and the symbolism in the film, although subtle at times, were absolutely wonderful.

Overall, The Quiet American is a wonderful film. It stands apart in my eyes as a spectacular film, and one that the Oscars should be ashamed for missing. Just because the film was overlooked by the Academy doesn’t mean that you as a viewer should overlook it as well. If you are in the mood for something a little more on the serious side, yet highly entertaining check out The Quiet American. You will be glad you did. I know I was, even though it at first I was a little afraid that I would be wasting my time. Boy was I wrong. Now I am glad I did take the time, because it is films like these that make quality cinema what it is today.

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