Between Quiet and
Boring Is Very Fine, Indeed
The Quiet American
Wrt. Christopher Hampton (adapted from the novel by Graham
Dir. Phillip Noyce
Str. Michael Cain, Brendan Fraser, Do Thi Hai Yen
Opens February 7th
Quiet American is one of those movies made so it would
get nominated for a bunch of Oscars. It's got the perfect
plot, a venerable actor, some nice sets, and it's based
on a famous writer's book. It's the perfect recipe for your
run-of-the-mill Oscar movie. And that is all there is to
The Quiet American.
The story, by Graham Green, is very simple, running along
an even keel, relying on the subtly of the writing to evoke
emotion for the characters and the situations. Hampton has
done an admirable job adapting the novel, as a good deal
of their characteristics emerge from the movie with the
same simple, quiet passions. But these passions are so subtle
and so complex that the audience has to try very hard to
see them, and identify with them. If one looks deep enough
into the characters, however, one will see how marvelously
complex they are; behind the quiet masks, isn't so much
dramatic turmoil, as real, believable people.
The problem with The Quiet American is no one really
seems to know what kind of movie it's supposed to be. Is
it a character drama (if so, why don't we care about any
of these people)? Is it a political thriller (if so, why
is it so un-thrilling)? Is it a love story (if so, why don't
I believe that anyone is actually in love with anyone else)?
I think that in novel form this ambiguity works well, but
when translated to the screen, it feels like it falls short
in all three categories, and the three combined do not a
complete movie make.
The Quiet American gets two quietly bored hipsters.
The acting is good, not as brilliant as they are claming,
but definitely good. Some of the story is mildly interesting
and the climactic scene is excellent - it is tense and dramatic
and wonderfully shot. That one scene, alone, makes the movie