Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Rated: PG-13

Stars: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Steven Berkoff, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Genre: Romantic Thriller

Who could blame one for thinking that The Tourist might be just another vehicle designed to showcase a couple of mega-stars--Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp--and little else? HOWEVAH...I'm happy to report that was not the case! Here is a film with intrigue, romance, gorgeous scenery, (in addition to Ms. Jolie) and a mesmerizing score from James Newton what's not to like? (Okay, there's no with it!)

In the world of intrigue--as in life--there are assumptions, and there is often a reality that blows our assumptions out of the water. Speaking of water... we're in Venice, where the elegant Elise (Angelina Jolie) is being tailed by agents from Interpol who believe she's getting ready to hook up with her lover, the elusive Alexander Pearce, wanted for ripping off a ton of money from the brutal gangster Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff). Previously, when Elise received a note from Pearce instructing her to board a designated train from Paris to Venice and pick out a guy about his build and height to glom onto so as to bamboozle the British agents...there sits the hapless looking Frank Tupelo, (Johnny Depp) a math teacher from Wisconsin, who is immediately taken with Elise...and then taken BY Elise to her fancy hotel suite and...suffice it to say that Frank is now caught up in everything that Elise is caught up in...and WE are caught up in one spellbinding movie!

There are two plot twists in The Tourist that (unless you're Sherlock Holmes) will dispel the major assumptions you've drawn about each of these characters. The one at the end stretches the bounds of believability like the elastic on that one pair of undies you've been wearing now for the last five years. WHO CARES? It's the movies...remember?

Johnny Depp gives what must be the most understated performance of his career, but the reasons for that will fall into place at the end, at which point you'll be able to appreciate it for what it is. ( want him to be the swashbuckler every time? Hey--he's run out of eyeliner!)

Jolie, who is about to be inducted into the BIG LIPS AND MOUTH HALL OF FAME (along with Carly Simon, Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, and Lisa Rinna) is elegant, playful, witty, daring, and self-confident as Elise.

The Tourist was a fun ride that I will likely take again--the second time knowing what I know, and watching for subtle hints in facial expressions that may give more away than what I was able to catch onto the first time around.

Grade: B +