The Quiet American
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     It is hard to imagine a movie that is more topical at the moment than The Quiet American.  Even though it is set in 1952 Vietnam, the themes of this film run through current events.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.  The Quiet American tells the story of a classic love triangle set against the backdrop of the beginnings of American involvement in Vietnam.  A British Journalist (Michael Caine) has been in Vietnam for years.  He is nearing retirement and his newspaper wants him back home in England.  But Caine is in love with a young Vietnamese woman (Do Thi Hai Yen) and wants to stay on in Saigon.  Enter the third side of the triangle in the person of a young American CIA agent (Brendan Fraser).  Fraser is on a mission to destabilize Vietnam as the French army pulls out, but a new mission takes over once he lays eyes on Yen.  It is love at first sight and while Yen prefers Caine, she sees her future in Fraser.

     The thing that makes The Quiet American worth seeing is Michael Caine.  He is amazing.  He has made over 100 movies including some of my favorites like The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, The Wrong Box, Sleuth,
Educating Rita, and Last Orders.  He is almost 70 years old but The Quiet American shows that Caine hasn't lost it.  In fact, he may be getting better with age.  Anyway, this is a Tour de Force for Caine and he should get an Oscar nomination.  The unfortunate part of this movie is that Brendan Fraser just isn't up to acting with one of the big boys.  I like Fraser and, aside from classics like The Mummy, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle, he did do a very good job in Gods and Monsters.  But here, he is overwhelmed by too much Michael Caine.  Casting Fraser for this character seems like a good idea since he is supposed to be bland on the outside.  But Fraser is also bland on the inside here.  There is no depth of character whereas Caine's character has layer upon layer.  The Vietnamese actress, Do This Hai Yen does a good job as the woman in the middle between Caine and Fraser. And Pham Thi Mai Hoa does a very nice bit as Yen's calculating sister.

     The Quiet American was not only shot on location in Vietnam but it is being shown there, having been ruled "progressive" by the government.  However, this story is not anti-American but rather pro-Vietnamese.  In microcosm and macrocosm, it is about taking control back from the foreigners.  In Fraser's character, we have the bland face of the foreign superpower, invading the country to save it from itself and to remake it in America's image.  Fraser is The Quiet American.  This film is based on the Graham Greene novel of the same name which is amazing in its prescience.  That being said, the story as presented in the film is very simplistic and portrays the issues as black and white with few shades of grey.  But who cares.  Just go and see Michael Caine.  The movie is beautiful to watch and so is Caine's acting.