The Quiet American

Bomb Rating: 

This film is virtually unwatchable if you don't know anything about Vietnam in 1952.

This film is virtually unwatchable if you don't know anything about Vietnam in 1952, which is when the film takes place. If you're unlike me (I know lots about Vietnam), then you don't have the slightest clue about a whole bunch of stuff such as: What the hell are the French doing there? What in the world is Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) talking about when he talks about a "third force"? Why is a young, beautiful Vietnamese girl like Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen) hanging out with an old British hag like Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine)? And is Do Thi Hai Yen four names, one name, or is Vietnamese just really screwed up?

Thomas Fowler is a journalist for The London Times and his whole, big thing is that he's completely neutral about everything. He's neutral about the French involvement, about the Vietnamese, and even about Phuong. When Pyle shows up, sees Phuong for the first time, and immediately declares his love for her, Fowler hardly bats an eye because all he sees is this naive, ridiculous American who doesn't have the slightest clue about what's going on with anything.

Isn't this film about 40 years too late? Graham Greene wrote the novel in the late '50s and director Philip ("Rabbit Proof Fence") Noyce is just getting around to filming it now? Does anybody even care about the Vietnam War any longer? I think we're over this now. Let's move on.

Noyce, who is Australian, seems to want to throw the failure of Vietnam in our faces using Pyle as an example of American naiveté. Okay, accepting for just one minute that Noyce and Graham (a Brit) are right about America's failure in Vietnam, who the hell are they to tell us how to run our foreign policy? It's not like they're offering any decent alternatives. Noyce can't even convey why Phuong is hanging out with either one of these losers and now he wants to dictate our foreign policy?

Time to invade Australia.

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