Reporting from Vietnam
Having been in Saigon for many years British journalist for the London Times Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine) has crafted out a charmed life for himself, filing the occasional report from the comfort of his office whilst carrying on with Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen) his mistress which if his devoutly catholic wife back home would divorce him he would marry. But enter American Alden Pyle, a younger man who is part of the American contingent in the Economic Aid Mission and who takes a shine to Phuong after befriending Thomas. It leads to constant tensions between the two which are heightened by their different political views. But when a year after his arrival Pyle is discovered murdered Thomas finds himself being questioned by the police.
Often as a movie reviewer I find myself in a sort of curious situation where I can watch a movie which didn't entertain me but yet I can appreciate why others would thoroughly enjoy it. That is the case when it comes to the 2002 version of "The Quiet American" a movie which explores America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict interwoven with a story surrounding a British journalist stationed there. Anyone who frequents The Movie Scene will know that I am not one for historical political dramas and as such the side which explores America's involvement in Vietnam didn't captivate me in the same way it would others who are old enough to remember that period.
But whilst the detail in the story didn't captivate me there was still something about "The Quiet American" which still captivated me and the movie simply ticked a lot of boxes. The use of locations within Vietnam and the recreation of the period makes for a fascinating backdrop to the drama. And whilst the whole political side of the story didn't captivate me the whole personal side when it came to Thomas, Alden and Phuong certainly did in a surprising way.
But for me what really impressed me about "The Quiet American" was the acting and Michael Caine is not only in top form in this movie, coming across as incredibly natural as a cynical British reporter stationed in Vietnam but he works so well with Brendan Fraser, bringing out more from the younger American. These two work so well together with Do Thi Hai Yen adding a real sweetness, and a much needed one, to the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "The Quiet American" is a beautifully constructed movie with a great look and good acting with Michael Caine on top form once again. But it is a movie which I am sure works even better for those with a greater interest in the political side of the story which it also covers.