The Tourist (2011) - A Sophisticated, Romantic Caper

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Tourist

If there were only one factor to cite, I'd say this movie drew in crowds in great part to its top-billed stars – both of which can entice droves of people to the theater. Critics weren’t all that into this script, and to be perfectly honest with you, neither was I. Turns out it’s kind of a necessity (and what helped the studio save face) that those two names were plastered across a poster, because the plot, while immensely entertaining, isn’t that inventive.

Broken hearts take time to heal. To recover… to love again. Initially anger might win out, or hurt, and if you existed on the latter, it may turn into a state of perpetual bitterness and if the former, the reaction is to start diminishing every part of that relationship. And, for some of us, the most logical solution might be to run. Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) is in just that position. A laid-back American math teacher, he was left heartbroken by someone, and instead he is traveling alone across the European countries. Presently he's traveling from Paris to Venice by train when his life instantly changes when a beguiling woman sits down across from him, and engages him in flirtatious conversation. Her name is Elise (Angelina Jolie).

Just escaping out from under British intelligence, Elise is following instructions from a letter delivered to her only that morning from a courier. Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany) believes Elise is the key to his current investigation: he is a man determined to see his case closed with Pierce, a notorious con man whom Elise shares a past with, in their custody. Acheson is resolute in seeing it through and knows Elise will lead him to the elusive thief. Now Elise finds herself in a similar predicament as Frank – she is running. The two become dinning companions, driven together by necessity more than anything. It isn’t until after he met Elise that his life turns into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse.
Circling back to the star-power, let me just say, pairing these two particular stars was interesting. It's a challenge to think of Depp as anyone other than the rum-drinking Captain Sparrow whom he wholly embodies (to me, he is a little kooky in real life, so the role is tailor-made for him *wink*) while Jolie has never been an actress I’ve cared for.  Imagine my surprise discovering Depp was set to star in this and reading his character bio is a teacher by profession, no less. Seems a little not like Johnny Depp, right!? Reading the trivia for this was interesting.

The Tourist

It tells us that early production vetted a number of different actors and directors, including everyone from Sam Worthington to Charlize Theron while Jolie only took the part because of its quick shoot (reportedly). The supporting cast is equally impressive consisting of Timothy Dalton and in the shadows of everyone, Rufus Sewall. I liked how well everyone played off each other, but cannot say that others in the roles of Frank and Elise wouldn’t have been favorable. At the risk of contradicting myself, having now seen the entire movie and not just promotional spots, I cannot imagine any other actor doing them justice, especially Depp. “Creative differences” were cited as a reason for many who walked away from this script.

Playing the seductress, Jolie has the entire routine down to a T although the one flaw is her British accent frequently goes missing. Costumes are always gorgeous. Jolie looked every inch the sophisticated woman in her ballroom attire – even if her make-up was a little over-made sometimes, and Johnny the dapper gentleman. Were it not for the two stars, it isn’t a movie that snags your attention, instead appearing a wallflower. But once you’ve seen it, I think you’ll find yourself getting caught up. Motivations are clear-cut in this story (like Elise using Frank until he proved his usefulness, she had a “need” for him). It made for interesting objectives as to why she even felt a hint of remorse when he encountered trouble as a direct result of her actions.

As expected shooting on location gives a realistic atmosphere to how the sets, moods and look of the movie should be seen. It presents a more authentic concept of what the camera lens is meant to capture.  Dialogue is witty, and I treasured the final bits of banter between lovers – unforgettable as it may be, it was cute. Even the minor instance of foul language, which attempts to spoil a special moment, barely succeeds.

This past weekend, I finally got around to re-watching The Tourist (after initially renting it), and came to enjoy the movie with a greater feeling than its first showing. It's exciting, although not in the traditional sense – at my house, there were split opinions. Ignore the blasé reviews, promotional material and telling title, and give the film its due. It won't reinvent the genre wheel, but its red herring plots and awareness of intrigue is actually admirable. The film ended, I started enthusiastically praising it and that was that – I’d found my latest favorite light-hearted mystery. I’ll be the first to admit this movie wasn’t something I’d expected to find so absorbing and the thing of it is that the entire movie goes in one direction and takes another before closing. And that is good writing.

(Parental review; two f-words are made use of, plus ba**t**d. Violence was the second “reason” behind the PG13 rating which involves some gunfire [three villains are shot in the back] and tense escapes. Frank and Elise share some passionate kisses and implications suggest Elise just broke off a live-in relationship. The camera glimpses Elise undressing [her undergarments are visible]. Surveillance jokes about whether or not a target is wearing underwear as the camera zooms into her back. Much of Elise’s wardrobe is form-fitting with plunging necklines.)


  1. I watched this with a friend a couple of months ago -- I figured out the twist quite early on, but still enjoyed it. It was cute and it was fun. But then, I like Angelina Jolie, so I was bound to enjoy it.

    The costuming IS gorgeous. I'm not all that surprised. Midway through I said "I bet Colleen Atwood designed these costumes." Got to the end and yup, she had. She's probably my favorite designer in Hollywood -- she has designed everything from Alice in Wonderland and Sleepy Hollow to Chicago. Gorgeous sense of fashion.

  2. Gosh! But you seem good at pegging the twists - it just isn't fair, girl! =)

    I LOVED this movie. Mom picked it to re-watch a week ago, and I came to love it a bit more. It's exciting (even if it isn't in the traditional ways) and holds the viewer captive. Not a huge fan of Jolie, but I've liked what she's been in that I have seen.

    Colleen Atwood is a very familiar name, so I am sure I've seen a lot of her work, too; Alice in Wonderland being one of them. You said it right: she does have a sense of fashion that is untouchable. =)

  3. I don't know whether to blame it on being a writer or a girl who grew up reading mystery novels. I just know that half an hour in I said, "You know, if I was writing this..." and it turns out the screenwriter had the same idea!

    If it makes you feel any better, Carissa gave me a dirty look when I announced my suspicions. I don't think she appreciates my skill either. ;)

    It is fun. I should rent it again.

    Colleen Atwood is a costuming genius. Sometimes, I watch movies just to look at her designs. She's done Snow White & the Huntsman, The Tourist, Alice in Wonderland, Public Enemies, Nine, Sweeney Todd, Memoirs of a Geisha, Lemony Snicket, Chicago, Sleepy Hollow, and even Little Women. I just... I want to marry her costumes. =D

  4. I think I might watch this

  5. Charity - I can guess where the plot is going sometimes (just did with the S3 finale of Bones... but I'll admit I had some indicators of it prior to seeing it), but not every time. In this case, I just assumed it would play out how it (the plot, the title) suggested.

    Well... I don't know about Carissa but since I don't care about spoilers (usually), I am always good knowing the end. =)

    You should rent it again - as I said, I just loved it more the 2nd time through.

    Colleen has won and/or been nominated for some prestigious awards, too. (I think!) She definately deserves it. Knowing that "Huntsman" is from the producers of "Alice," it doesn't surprise me that she will be designing the costumes again - YAY! More loveliness from the mind of Colleen Atwood. =)

    Funmilayo - yes do! It was a lot of fun. =)

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Visit anytime.

  6. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie.

  7. I really liked this one, Jen despite not being a fan of either stars. I like Johnny as Captain Jack and that is about it. ;D


Have a thought? Don't be shy, go ahead and leave one... or two... or three! I reply to every comment. If you're new to the blog, please don't hesitate to introduce yourself and your blog - we love chatting around here!

Feedback and every comment is appreciated and read - I always leave a response; your opinions are respected and I ask that you show mine the same courtesy.

(If you post under “anonymous,” please leave a name. If you don't have a Google account, you can type your name into the Name/URL and if you have no site, just leave "URL" blank.)

If you are still reading my ramblings, thank you for following this little blog and for being one of its supporters. I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of you, friends!

Latest Instagrams

© Finding Wonderland. Design by FCD.