Movie Review: The Tourist

The Tourist isn’t as awful as some critics made it out to be. Sure, it is somewhat cliched, and lacking in chemistry between leading actors Johnny Depp (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Pirates of the Caribbean) and Angelina Jolie (The Changeling), but I disagree with the haters. The Tourist, which is currently and undeservedly regarded as the creatively and commercially disappointing follow-up from writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck to his sterling foreign film, The Lives of Others, is an utterly delightful caper. After a subtitled opening, the picture offers glamorous Jolie sashaying into a Paris cafe for what amounts to an elaborate police stakeout, leading to a mysterious identity crisis involving an entourage of characters played by Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist), Paul Bettany (Da Vinci Code), Timothy Dalton (ex-007), and others. Depp plays the unkempt American tourist, a community college math professor and widower who meets Jolie’s silent temptress on a train (she’s smitten with a man who apparently swindled a fortune from a gangster). With various twists, watching these two mingle is interesting enough, with the train scenes standing out for a classic romantic setup. As the French countryside slips away, we find the pair in Venice, in the most lavishly filmed treatment since Lasse Hallstrom’s Casanova, with Depp’s hapless Midwesterner racing across rooftops in his bare feet and pajamas, as Jolie, decked in evening wear and false eyelashes, navigates the canals, and the whole affair winds up on the dance floor with a flair and a splendid sense of life. Though it is not one of the best movies ever made, it’s better than most, and in the long run director von Donnersmarck will come out ahead, having stepped gingerly out of the tight, tense political drama of communist East Germany into the lightness of elegant romance. The Tourist is nicely done, enjoyable to watch, and perfect for an evening on DVD.

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