The Tourist (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2010)

04Jan11

Angelina Jolie (Elise Clifton-Ward), Johnny Depp (Frank Tupelo). Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Rating: 12. Running time: 103 minutes.

The Tourist is a bizarre film: it’s brought to us by the director of The Lives of Others – that stupidly good Oscar winner from the other year set behind the Iron Curtain, and yet it it has the appearance of being a mindless eye-candy fest of the kind Hollywood churns out annually; it stars both the sexiest actor and actress alive today, and makes the location Venice for good measure; it has sold itself as a fluffy member of the rom-com spy genre that seems out of place being released in the Oscar season, instead feeling better suited to a summer release date alongside Jennifer Anniston’s latest piece of trash, despite the fact that neither Angelina, nor Depp or Von Donnersmarck, seem like the kind of air-head artists that would settle for a film of the kind The Tourist seems to be.

For all these reasons, then, The Tourist leaves one perplexed. Its plot is preposterous, going through more twists than one would think possible, each building and expanding upon the absurdity of the last. The romance is self-consciously stale and oh-so stereotypical, largely there solely so we can soak up the footage of Jolie and Depp snogging. Jolie looks as damn fine as she ever has done – admittedly ample reason on its own to keep watching. I’m left wondering, however, what would have happened if it were not for the gorgeous faces, and the answer must be that The Tourist would not have come anywhere near to earning my ten dollar ticket. I kept watching because of the visuals and because I was intrigued – intrigued as to what the hell von Donnersmarck was thinking; why he would want to make a film like this. In the end, no satisfactory answer arises. Shut up and be content with the glamour; ask for anything more and The Tourist will be left embarrassed, and as run of the mill ridiculous as cinema gets.

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