THE QUIET AMERICAN Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: November 22, 2002

Starring: Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Hai Yen, Tzi Ma, and Rade Sherbedgia

Genre: Thriller

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder Based on a famous novel
by Graham Greene, THE QUIET
AMERICAN tries to answer the
questions how and why the
United States entered the
Vietnam War. Its answers are
not entirely satisfying,
however. They leave out
several major issues. THE
QUIET AMERICAN stars Michael
Caine as Thomas Fowler, a
tired British journalist
living with a young Vietnamese
woman, Phuong, in Saigon in
1952. The French are still
fighting the Communists, led
by Ho Chi Minh, but the
American embassy has been
helping the French behind the
scenes. Fowler has a wife in
England, but she is Roman
Catholic and refuses to grant
him a divorce. One day, Fowler
meets a young American named
Alden Pyle, who is part of an
economic aid program from the
U.S. Fowler introduces Pyle to
his mistress, and Pyle is
immediately taken with her
exotic beauty. At first,
Fowler is amused by Pyle's
attraction, but then he grows
worried. He angrily tells Pyle
to buzz off, even when Phuong
declines Pyle's declaration of
love. The war throws Fowler
and Pyle together again,
however. Fowler takes a
renewed liking to the charming
American, especially when Pyle
saves his life. Even so, a
letter from Fowler's wife
drastically changes the
situation. Fowler then becomes
suspicious of Pyle's role in a
plot by American intelligence
to support a charismatic
Vietnamese general, who
decides to lead a new movement
to fight both the Communists
and the French. The truth is
revealed, a tragedy occurs,
and Fowler takes drastic
action that will change all
their lives. THE QUIET
AMERICAN implicates the
American CIA in a terrorist
bombing in the story that was
meant to kill soldiers but
ends up killing civilians,
including a little baby.
Although the movie shows that
it was the Communist leader,
Ho Chi Minh, who decided to
invade South Vietnam, forcing
the Americans to increase
their presence, it ultimately
puts the blame squarely on the
U.S.A. for meddling in the
political and military affairs
of Vietnam. The movie fails to
mention, however, the support
that the Communists received
from despicable, murderous
regimes like the Soviet Union
and Communist China. Nor does
the movie show the fact that,
despite the defeat that
America suffered in Vietnam,
America's involvement there
helped Asian countries like
South Korea, Taiwan, Hong
Kong, and Japan become strong,
relatively democratic economic
powers. Thus, it can be argued
that, without the Vietnam War,
which contained Communism for
a time, these countries would
never have been able to
achieve the success that they
did. Of course, it remains to
be seen whether liberty will
actually survive in Southeast
Asia and China. There are
still totalitarian forces at
work in that area of the
world, as there are
totalitarian forces at work in
the United States itself. As
usual, Michael Caine does a
bang-up job as the morally
ambiguous Fowler. Brendan
Fraser is not so compelling as
Pyle, however. Part of the
problem, though, seems to be
the poorly scripted character,
who just isn't believable. Hai
Yen as the lovely Phuong also
is not so convincing as the
elder Fowler's young mistress.
The filmmakers have not
succeeded in making these
younger characters come alive.
They probably should have made
these characters older, to
give more weight to their
story. Also, there is a hole
in the plot, in that it should
have taken Fowler less time to
become suspicious of Pyle.
This is so especially when
Pyle keeps showing up in
military situations, where he
demonstrates an ability beyond
his character's alleged
background. Despite these
flaws, the filmmakers have
succeeded in taking Vietnam
back to an earlier time, when
nations and political/military
leaders would take crucial
actions that would have
repercussions for many decades
later. It may have been more
interesting to get even more
involved in this atmosphere,
instead of reducing the
situation to a romantic
triangle and a relatively
superficial political
thriller. Please address your
comments to: Bob and Harvey
Weinstein Co-Chairmen Miramax
Films 375 Greenwich Street New
York, NY 10013 Phone: (323)
822-4100 & (212) 941-3800 Fax:
(212) 941-3846 Website:
www.miramax.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 101 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(HH, CoCo, APAP, LL, VV, S, A, DD, M) Humanist worldview with some Communist and anti-American elements; about 14 obscenities (including one or two "f" words) and three strong profanities; action, wartime violence includes mortar fire, machine guns, explosions, terrorist bombing with limbs torn off, and assassination; implied adultery, cohabitation before marriage and men enter house of prostitution but no sex or nudity shown; no nudity, but woman's bare back shown from afar in love scene; alcohol use; smoking and opium use; and, lying, deceit, assassination, political manipulation implicitly rebuked.

GENRE: Thriller

HH

CoCo

APAP

LL

VV

S

A

DD

M

Summary:

THE QUIET AMERICAN tells the story of a middle-aged British journalist in Saigon, Vietnam, who gets involved in a romantic triangle with an American spy, which leads to political murder. This uneven movie has its charms, which include an excellent performance by Michael Caine and plenty of atmosphere, but it takes a humanist, pro-Communist, anti-American slant despite some ambiguity.

Review:

Based on a famous novel by Graham Greene, THE QUIET AMERICAN tries to answer the questions how and why the United States entered the Vietnam War. Its answers are not entirely satisfying, however. They leave out several major issues.

THE QUIET AMERICAN stars Michael Caine as Thomas Fowler, a tired British journalist living with a young Vietnamese woman, Phuong, in Saigon in 1952. The French are still fighting the Communists, led by Ho Chi Minh, but the American embassy has been helping the French behind the scenes. Fowler has a wife in England, but she is Roman Catholic and refuses to grant him a divorce.

One day, Fowler meets a young American named Alden Pyle, who is part of an economic aid program from the U.S. Fowler introduces Pyle to his mistress, and Pyle is immediately taken with her exotic beauty. At first, Fowler is amused by Pyle's attraction, but then he grows worried. He angrily tells Pyle to buzz off, even when Phuong declines Pyle's declaration of love.

The war throws Fowler and Pyle together again, however. Fowler takes a renewed liking to the charming American, especially when Pyle saves his life. Even so, a letter from Fowler's wife drastically changes the situation. Fowler then becomes suspicious of Pyle's role in a plot by American intelligence to support a charismatic Vietnamese general, who decides to lead a new movement to fight both the Communists and the French. The truth is revealed, a tragedy occurs, and Fowler takes drastic action that will change all their lives.

THE QUIET AMERICAN implicates the American CIA in a terrorist bombing in the story that was meant to kill soldiers but ends up killing civilians, including a little baby. Although the movie shows that it was the Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, who decided to invade South Vietnam, forcing the Americans to increase their presence, it ultimately puts the blame squarely on the U.S.A. for meddling in the political and military affairs of Vietnam. The movie fails to mention, however, the support that the Communists received from despicable, murderous regimes like the Soviet Union and Communist China. Nor does the movie show the fact that, despite the defeat that America suffered in Vietnam, America's involvement there helped Asian countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan become strong, relatively democratic economic powers. Thus, it can be argued that, without the Vietnam War, which contained Communism for a time, these countries would never have been able to achieve the success that they did. Of course, it remains to be seen whether liberty will actually survive in Southeast Asia and China. There are still totalitarian forces at work in that area of the world, as there are totalitarian forces at work in the United States itself.

As usual, Michael Caine does a bang-up job as the morally ambiguous Fowler. Brendan Fraser is not so compelling as Pyle, however. Part of the problem, though, seems to be the poorly scripted character, who just isn't believable. Hai Yen as the lovely Phuong also is not so convincing as the elder Fowler's young mistress. The filmmakers have not succeeded in making these younger characters come alive. They probably should have made these characters older, to give more weight to their story. Also, there is a hole in the plot, in that it should have taken Fowler less time to become suspicious of Pyle. This is so especially when Pyle keeps showing up in military situations, where he demonstrates an ability beyond his character's alleged background.

Despite these flaws, the filmmakers have succeeded in taking Vietnam back to an earlier time, when nations and political/military leaders would take crucial actions that would have repercussions for many decades later. It may have been more interesting to get even more involved in this atmosphere, instead of reducing the situation to a romantic triangle and a relatively superficial political thriller.

Please address your comments to:

Bob and Harvey Weinstein

Co-Chairmen

Miramax Films

375 Greenwich Street

New York, NY 10013

Phone: (323) 822-4100 & (212) 941-3800

Fax: (212) 941-3846

Website: www.miramax.com

SUMMARY: THE QUIET AMERICAN tells the story of a middle-aged British journalist in Saigon, Vietnam, who gets involved in a romantic triangle with an American spy, which leads to political murder. This uneven movie has its charms, which include an excellent performance by Michael Caine and plenty of atmosphere, but it takes a humanist, pro-Communist, anti-American slant despite some ambiguity.

In Brief: