Quiet American 2002

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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Do Hai Yen, Rade Serbedzija, Quang Hai

Director: Phillip Noyce

Michael Caine’s realisation that he is in fact one of the nation’s greatest actors and now a national institution is carried through with yet more evidence of his true talent in the latest Graham Greene novel to hit the big screen THE QUIET AMERICAN. The story: The city of Saigon in the early 50’s is caught in the grips of the Vietnamese war of liberation from the French colonial powers. New arrival Alden Pyle (an excellent Brendan Fraser), an American aid worker that may not be all he seems bar the title character, befriends London Times correspondent Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine). When Fowler introduces the younger man to his beautiful young Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Hai Yen) the three become swept up in a tempestuous love triangle that leads to a series of startling revelations and finally – murder.

Nothing, and no one, are as they seem, in this adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic and prophetic story of love, betrayal, murder and the origin of the American war in Southeast Asia. Not only are some people not what they seem, the problem lies in the fact that they themselves do not know what they are supposed to be, or represent. Confused, you may be, but not as confused as they are. What they represent are the flaws of not so much a society, but the failings of individual lust and longing and the belief that causes, no matter how flawed they are, are ‘right’, which makes this film a strange mirror image of the confusion in the world today.

This film is a triumph for Caine following on from his excellent performance in CIDER HOUSE RULES as well as a beautifully understated performance from Fraser, following on from GODS AND MONSTERS. Although the film may seem to some a little dated, the story of love and betrayal is timeless. Although this may not receive the exposure of CIDER HOUSE RULES, Caine’s performance is better by far and worthy of recognition. As he gets older I think he cherishes a challenge. Gone are the days when he would star in a movie like JAWS 3D so he could have an extension built on his house from the earnings of 4 days work but 4 years of ridicule. Good to see him in top form.

4 out of 6 stars