Opening today is the follow-up film from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark (the acclaimed The Lives of Others), The Tourist; a tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy reminiscent of the old Cary Grant films with co-stars Audrey Hepburn (Charade) and Grace Kelly (To Catch a Thief). Angelina Jolie plays the drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale in fabulous retro gowns and dresses who strings along a puppy dog American tourist (Johnny Depp) who is absolutely smitten with her. Who wouldn’t be smitten? Even I’d follow her, if only to get a chance at wearing one of those fabulous outfits.
From a café in Paris to romantic Venice, Elise (Jolie) plays a deadly cat and mouse game with a Russian gangster (Steven Berkoff) and his henchman and British and Italian Interpol who all want to trap her elusive boyfriend, Alexander Pearce. Alexander has stolen billions from the Russians and they naturally want their money back. Frank (Depp), a math teacher from Wisconsin, becomes bait for the trap when Elise picks him up on a train. Elise follows Alexander’s secret directives but ends up having to save Frank from misadventures.
The setting of Venice, its waterways and impressive architecture, is the perfect backdrop for this beautiful couple and their adventures. Funny, with a shot of dead seriousness here and there, the pace keeps you glued to the screen. Yet, I’m not sure if the storyline is more interesting than Angelina Jolie and her clothes. In various scenes, she manages to resurrect Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Sophia Loren. Johnny Depp, on the other hand, maintains Johnny Depp. He isn’t as suave and witty as Cary Grant was. For example he says, “Gracias” to the Italian hotel staff and replies “Bon Jovi” instead of “buongiorno”. But we forgive him all the same.
From the opening scene, there is no shortage of attractive men in The Tourist. Included in the international cast are Paul Bettany (Priest, 2011), Timothy Dalton (007, the casual version), Rufus Sewell (you know him), and hunky Italian Raoul Bova (Under the Tuscan Sun), who tries to put the moves on Angelina. There’s nothing like being under surveillance and being pursued by a host of good-looking gentlemen to make a girl feel desired. Frank has some serious competition. Or does he? Paul Bettany’s character Acheson says Elise apparently falls in love with anyone she has contact with for longer than a train ride and Frank currently has that enviable spot.
The end presents a twist that seems a bit absurd but the movie isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. There are moments between Johnny and Angelina that are timeless in the romantic sense: the dance, the kiss, the final destiny. I wondered, however, how the two could fall in love within such a short span of time; from a train ride to a platonic night shared in a hotel. Yet the end explains it all and you want to revisit the entire film with that new perception. All in all, the film is entertaining and visually enjoyable.