Film Review: THE TOURIST (directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)

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by Kevin Bowen on December 10, 2010

in Film


I suppose it’s at least a small accomplishment that The Tourist ends in the exact place that it’s been going all along — with its too mega-stars, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, in white tux and evening gown, dashing and bejeweled on a sailboat in Venice. For two hours, The Tourist ignores all logic and reason to relentlessly pursue this moment. There they are: two stars, looking for a port of call strong enough to hold their wattage, deigning to allow us to peek in on their fabulous adventure.

The Tourist has in mind the big-star heist films of the sixties like Charade that made it on charisma and splash, with characters who seem to live on champagne. (A latter-day example would be the underappreciated George Clooney-Jennifer Lopez pairing in Out of Sight.) Depp plays a college math teacher mistaken for a jet-set white-collar criminal. Jolie plays the hyper-elegant woman of mystery who seems like she was born in a luxury hotel, prancing about Paris and Venice, deciding if they deserve her.

Except that The Tourist wants to be a quirky satire of those films as well. That’s the shake. There are giant tone shifts between suspense and comedy that suggest that the film’s three writers (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, and Julian Fellowes) each had a different movie in mind. If the overt attempts at humor aren’t good for a guffaw, there’s always the accidentally silly action sequences, such as Depp jumping roof to roof in his jammies.

The Tourist is the improbable follow-up to director von Donnensmarck’s critically acclaimed The Lives of Others (Academy Award, Best Foreign Language Film). The subject shift makes for career whiplash. The Tourist has only one scene, a night on the town, that delivers on the glamour. The rest of the film is a waste. But at least the cast and crew enjoyed a nice trip to Venice.

The Tourist
Colombia Pictures
U.S.A. | 103 minutes | rated PG-13
in wide release December 10, 2010

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