Thursday, February 27, 2003

The Quiet American

The Quiet American is a thoughtful film about what ensues when cynicism, both personal and political, collide with idealism. Set in ’50s Vietnam before large scale U.S. involvement, the film centers around jaded British journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), his Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen) and young, idealistic American aid worker Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser). Directed by Philip Noyce and based on Graham Greene’s 1950s novel and starring Michael Caine, the film was originally set to be distributed by Miramax over a year ago but was put on hold after 9/11. Apparently the subject matter, which includes United States government sponsored acts of terrorism against innocent civilians, was considered inappropriate at the time to release. After Caine asked Harvey Weinstein to show it at the Toronto Film Festival, where it was well received, Miramax decided to release it nationally. Interestingly enough it comes at a time when the United States may be entering into another questionable military operation. The film’s plot goes something like this: When Pyle meets Fowler and Phuong he is immediatly smitten with the Vietnamese beauty and a love triangle is created with the two men in competition for Phuong’s affections. In actuality this is an allegorical struggle for the country of Vietnam and Fowler and Pyle play fast and loose with their morals, both personal and political, in a reflection of American, French, and Vietnamese military and policy decisions being made at that time. Michael Caine is particularly good as the Opium smoking Fowler and the cinematography by Christopher Doyle is outstanding.