Monday, July 06, 2009

Movie Review: The Quiet American

I got this through Netflix. An interesting little film about a journalist in early 1950s Vietnam, before the French pullout. Michael Caine stars as the journalist Thomas Fowler stationed in Saigon, living with his Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). Fowler's comfortable life is disrupted when an American aid worker, Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), arrives and begins to compete for Phuong's attentions. Pyle is idealistic and energetic, committed to defeating the communists in Vietnam and hoping to offer Phuong the marriage that Fowler cannot. This love triangle goes through a number of tense battles and then ends predictably in tears. Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam continues, and it appears that the French efforts against the communists are being supplanted by those of enterprising locals. But is unclear who is funding these new players...

Overall, I found the movie a bit odd but still thought provoking. The love story and the war sequences are not well-integrated, but it was interesting to see a film about the Vietnam conflict before large-scale American involvement. The book by Graham Greene upon which the movie was based was published in 1955, before all of that occurred. But given that this movie was released in 2002, my watching of it was colored by what I knew was going to happen in Vietnam during the 1960s.

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