The Tourist 2010 4*

Teaser. "The Tourist" is a scruffy Wisconsin US math teacher Frank (Johnny Depp 5'10") on holiday in Venice (nowhere else would do), picked up on the train from France by sultry Brit Elise (Angelina Jolie 5'8") as instructed by her ex (two years gone) amour Alexandar Pearce, who stole $2.3B from a gangster Shaw. I'd watch Jolie and Captain Jack Sparrow ad nauseum, but deduct 1* for lack of chemistry here with meek scraggy haired wimp Yank. His slapstick bumbling amiability does make believable that she completes him. A small running gag is his attempts at conversational Spanish in Italy, even in the french dubbed version (better for merde (English bloody) the only appropriate curse).

I'd take one of the continental supporting Males (my capitalization) and watch for the pretty packaging (the director's stated intention): the beauty of Venice and Jolie, and major actors (in minor roles) of supreme excellence and fascinatingly charismatic faces, who convey more meaning in a glance than wooden incompetent Hollywood clones in a lifetime.

Another reason for filming in Europe, the cigarette is a pivotal hinge for innumerable plot points, a novelty for a resident of *too politically correct Canada. I once visited inside a Venetian home, theirs for centuries, and knew we colonials could never understand that bone-deep difference they take for granted. The orchestration is the perfect accompaniment to the atmosphere and action, as is Katie Melua.

Russian thugs (Steven Berkoff) shoot to kill Elise; French and British Interpol (Paul Bettany, boss - Timothy Dalton) just watch. Funny scenes such as synchronated stepping behind pillars and motorboat towing are broken by the scary murderous villain, even with a grabed tape measure. How does she switch outfits from cream sweater and pants to clingy grey dress complete with yet another pair of gloves, while holding onto the steering wheel, or why stop to change? Where she steers to is an even bigger surprise. Nothing like the book at all. More of a showcase (in the extras, the director agrees - sophistication, glamor, luxury, beauty) for elegant outfits, and the perennial question of love at first sight and forever. I kinda guessed the ending then, caught up in the action and Angelina's smile, forgot.

Rufus Sewell 6' ("tourist" stand-in caught by Interpol, formerly BBC's Venetian detective Aurelio Zen) and Timothy Dalton 6'2" (former 007) are terrific mysteriously glimpsed elusive phantom and top police chief, respectively. Suddenly seeing Pirate Captain Jack in a facial twitch added extra layers to disguise. Paul Bettany 6'3" as crisp Inspector Acheson is very different than the last time I saw him as shaggy Dustfinger in Inkheart. The film cast consummate experts for even small roles, a joy to watch. Alessio Boni, the So Attractive Italian Interpol police captain was once a real Italian cop, now gorgeous onscreen. Steven Berkoff 5'9" couldn't be anything but a villain to me. Even funny gets creepy. I looked up the celebrity heights, because that tiny detail contributes to the overall feel of their characters and relationships.

Director commentary:

Von Donnersmarck says minor role surnames are from favored crew, but skips the fake mystery book "A Berlin Vendetta" supposedly by real-life Charles Torbett, props master, 35+ films: Star Wars, Indiana Jones. The real "swordsman" Count Filippo Gaggia has a gorgeous wife, and let his name be used because Raoul Bova would portray the part. The grand ballroom upper floor was used for basketball. Katie Melua, first heard as a teenager, live, was first to see edited film, to allow her song.)

(sort of, I don't tell you the plot context)
Final lines:
.Twenty million dollars worth of plastic surgery and that's the face you choose?
.Don't you like it?
.It'll do.

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