Archive for November, 2007

The quiet american (2002)

“The quiet american” (2002)



*** This comment may contain spoilers ***

This is good work. I came to it because i’ve recently re seen Minghella’s Talented Mr.Ripley. This one had Mighella as an executive producer and, in fact, it has much of the strength in mood that he is often able to give his films. That mood is based on specific cultural environments. That environment is always en formed by strong musical notes (here is another, quite good soundtrack work).

Here we have something particularly interesting: the initial shot. This is made of a still landscape shot over the river in Saigan. We get to see more than half the screen with river water, boats on it, houses, and bombs/explosions in a last plan. Than, suddenly, the camera moves down, and we find out a dead body inside a boat right below us. All this is completed with sounds from the explosions and the off voice narration by Caine, quite meaningful in its words to the whole development. The scene has (as most of the first scenes in films) the power to take us into the specific world of the film. One has to appreciate how remarkably economical this one is done.

So now we have the mood, the environment, we have a war, a oriental society, and foreign folks involved. Now the cinematic theme (in straight relation to the story told): all this is made around “seeing”. Every faction in this conflict (the historic war conflict and the dramatic conflict between our three protagonists) has its own particular way to See things and always makes the effort to bend the world to that vision. So we have the clear as water war situation. Communists, French, general The and the “third way” (americans). They See things their own way and more: they try to make people see the other factions the way they themselves see it. Check it:

-the bombs one faction places in order to make people believe other faction did it;

-Fraser’s character who makes himself look like medical assistant (who incidentally heals an eye disease) while in fact moves his way in secret to create the things he wants people to see (and interpret in a specific way);

-Diolacton, the product which is passed as being something to use in several products (among those it is supposed to strengthen eye glass wires!) but in fact is a compound used to produce bombs;

Than we have our love triangle. Fraser (as a participant) and Caine (as a observer, a man who “Sees”) link this story to the global environment. Phuong’s vision is in fact her sister’s vision: marrying the sister with an occidental man who can be married. Both men place their personal interests into trying to get the girl.

All this construction is intelligent, the mood is well placed (and the first scene has lots to do with it), and the music is really powerful in driving emotions, almost replacing what in other pictures would be made through physical actions. The weak link here is Fraser. He is not the guy for the role which, here, was really important, as a pivot, as disestablishing element. I care about some of his works as a comedian, but he clearly doesn’t know very well what to do here, and sometimes he even becomes funny when he’s supposed to be intense (in a dramatic way). Caine is many times in other films just vapid and grabbed to his British posture as en former of his roles, but here he really understands the job, and delivers. He is the “quiet” actor, no Fraser.

My evaluation: 4/5

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