Elise Clifton-Ward: Do you mean ravishing?
Frank: Yes, I do.
Elise: You’re ravenous.
Some poor sap of a math teacher from Wisconsin is sitting on a train en route to Venice from Paris when it happens. A devastatingly beautiful woman enters his car and spots the empty seat in front of him. Her gaze throws him completely off balance and from the moment she sits down, he doesn’t stand a chance. Who is she? Why would she sit with him when she could sit with any man she wanted? You just know that by the time they get off the train, their lives will be desperately intertwined. This is how Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, two of today’s biggest stars, meet in German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s first American foray, “The Tourist”. It’s all so old Hollywood but sadly it’s also all so transparently so.
Sometimes star power can have a blinding effect. The wattage can burn so bright that you don’t necessarily see how distracting it is from the actual film. And with stars as big as Depp and Jolie in your picture, it isn’t surprising that von Donnersmark, the man behind Oscar winner “The Lives of Others”, didn’t notice that they were not necessarily the best choices for their roles. Depp, with his beautiful hair and instinctual charm, is anything but a believable sap. Still, that charm inevitably saves him from coming off farcical and his decidedly anti-Bourne jaunt across shackled rooftops is certainly amusing. Meanwhile, Jolie seems to have been directed to walk around like a fembot of sorts, cold and false, from her perfect walk to her supposedly British accent. They are stars for a reason though and before long, the impossibly pretty people in the pretty foreign place lull you into comfortable and classical state of intrigue.
The setup for “The Tourist” is straight out of a Hitchcock movie. All the elements of a tantalizing mystery are there but all the goods are given away upfront so there is nothing left to guess at. Of course, seeing as how we don’t live in classical Hollywood, modern necessities like twists and surprises must occur and they are neither twisted nor surprising but at least they aren’t insulting. And so like a real tourist on a mediocre vacation that promised to be so gorgeous in the brochure, the stay is acceptable, at times even enjoyable, but we are happy to know we are going home when the credits roll.
Review by Joseph Bélanger