Yes, I know I don’t usually review movies, or, if I do, I am talking about the snack bar, but this is my Christmas gift to you – an op piece without mentioning food (now I have to remember to do that!).
I used to go to the movies a lot – maybe twice a week. Now, not so much anymore, and it’s not due to the proliferation of new delivery vehicles (streaming, dvds, etc) but rather just that it’s 1) a hassle to go (driving, parking, crowds) and 2) it’s gotten damned expensive.
But we made a plan to go to the movies on Christmas Day (as did millions of other people), and we opted for “The Tourist” because we thought even if it was “bad” (and there have been more than a few tough reviews), we’d get to sit in the dark and stare at two beautiful people (Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie) for a couple of hours. No downside!
The story unwinds on the streets of Paris, with Jolie having her (apparently) usual breakfast at a sidewalk cafe. Beautifully shot by DP John Seale (“The Perfect Storm,” “Ghosts of Mississippi,” “Rainman,” and a list of others, the film’s beauty instantly transported me back to neighborhoods in Paris I have lived in and loved.
The action switches to the massiveGare de Lyon train station, where both Jolie and Depp board the TGV to Venice. (The Gare de Lyon is one of six major train stations in Paris, with trains from there generally headed to the South and East).
For reasons the plot explains, Jolie meets Depp, seemingly for only a moment, but there is a reason for the encounter which unwinds for the rest of the film.
It would appear that a lot of the people who don’t like this film thought it was a pure thriller, and maybe that’s a marketing mistake. It is, instead, a light comedy/thriller, and it serves the genre well. Hitchcock would be proud; for while this is actually a remake of a French film from a decade ago (“Andrew Zimmer”), I saw nods to “North by Northwest” all through it, and one can easily imagine Jolie starring in a Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly role, with Depp taking the Cary Grant part.
Depp and Jolie both ‘get the joke’, and surrender to the comedy lines and dramatic pauses thrown in by masterful writer/Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie(“The Usual Suspects”), and while there has been a lot of buzz about how Jolie and Depp have no on screen chemistry, for me, the sheer magnitude of their acting ability disguises this, if it was indeed true. It is easy to imagine the character’s fondness for each other throughout the story.
Although many will or have called the plot preposterous, hey, people, it’s a MOVIE! So take it as it is offered.
The bulk of the picture takes place in Venice, and here Seale continues his excellent work of framing, lighting, and focus to make each audience member experience one of the world’s most beautiful cities first hand.
A superb supporting cast, including Timothy Dalton, surround Depp and Jolie throughout the flick.
The story ends with a bang (four of them, actually), and audiences with a modicum of intelligence accept the experience for what it is – a humorous diversion, featuring two of the world’s most beautiful people, transporting us to a faraway place, for a couple of hours.
I recommend you see it.