Movie Review – The Tourist (2010)
by HELEN GEIB
The Tourist is fundamentally misconceived: it wants to be both a con game and a lush romance. The two parts are incompatible, and the whole is terribly dull.
The film is the inauspicious Hollywood debut of German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others). It is a remake of a 2005 French film called Anthony Zimmer.
Elise (Angelina Jolie) is an Englishwoman living in Paris. She is under surveillance by Interpol; the operation is directed by Acheson (Paul Bettany), an officer in Scotland Yard’s fraud unit. Scotland Yard’s target is Elise’s lover Alexander Pierce, former banker to gangster Shaw. Alexander stole some billions of pounds from his erstwhile employer and went into hiding a year earlier. Shaw, who travels surrounded by Russian muscle, is also hunting Alexander, who is believed to have had radical facial reconstruction surgery to escape pursuit. Alexander sends Elise a note telling her to take the train to Venice and chat up a stranger who resembles him in height and build. She selects Frank (Johnny Depp), a passive American college teacher. The idea is that the police and the gangster will think Frank is really Alexander….
After many complications, the story is capped by a final “reveal” that shows Scotland Yard, Shaw, Elise to an unknown extent, and the audience to have been manipulated in a grand con game orchestrated by Alexander. From the get-go, the plot is convoluted and implausible. In light of the ending, the plot also makes no sense.
In light of the ending, the romance between Elise and Frank is nothing but a grand cheat. That’s a major problem in a film that’s supposed to be romantic, and that devotes much of its running time to longing looks, swelling strings, and pretty speeches.
The most entertaining, though not the principal part of the movie is the “innocent abroad” comic adventures of Frank. Elise leads him around by the nose, Shaw’s henchmen chase him around thinking he’s Alexander, he gets arrested and spends an uncomfortable night in jail, and so on and so on. Frank’s time in jail is quite amusing and the ensuing speedboat chase through the Venice canals is exciting. The rooftop chase that leads to his arrest is also fun.
Incredibly, the cinematography makes Venice look nondescript. Great attention was, however, lavished on Jolie’s makeup, hair, and costumes. The camera keeps her in tight focus as she slinks through the film striking poses. Everyone she passes- man or woman- turns to look at her. Depp mostly looks blank.
Angelina Jolie also starred in one of 2010’s summer blockbusters, the predictable but not-dull Salt.