Michael Caine is still a pimp.
A British reporter, Fowler (Michael Caine, in an Oscar-nominated performance), falls in love with a young Vietnamese woman, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), and is dismayed when an American, Pyle (Brendan Fraser), also begins vying for her attention.
The nice thing about The Quiet American is that it looks very very pretty and gives us a great image and view of Vietnam before everything started getting a little hay-wire. This was actually filmed in Vietnam so it gave me that real time and feeling that served this material very well, and when you look at a big ocean with little boats with lights, it’s nothing more than a just a very pretty screen saver pic for your computer.
However, if only the actual story and writing did the looks some justice. First off, the film totally ruins itself within the first 10 minutes because it shows Pyle dead and it’s basically assumed that there was some sort of love triangle going on with these three. So basically for the next hour-and-a-half we are left wondering just how big of a role Fowler actually played in Pyle’s death and what lead to everything. In some movies, this actually works well, but here, not at all.
Another problem with this film is that the writing is pretty crappy with the script sometimes going from this love-triangle to the problems in Vietnam with France. This constant going back-and-forth between stories and themes bothered me as I didn’t know what the film was trying to get across other than the metaphor of Phuong actually representing Vietnam, that the film was bashing me over the head with.
Speaking of Phuong, what the hell was so amazing about this girl that made these two practically fall in love, fight, and almost die for? The whole film she is just there to sit and look pretty, spouting out incomplete sentences and being a face that looks pretty familiar honestly. I mean these guys could have gotten a million girls in Vietnam, but what was so special about this chick? That was never really answered and then the film went so low as to try and get me to root on Fowler as he was trying to divorce his wife. When the hell has divorce for the sake of being with some Vietnamese mistress been alright? I guess in some cases it is, but this one threw me off a bit.
Michael Caine is actually very powerful as Fowler, and is probably what makes this film watchable in a way. He got nominated for an Oscar here, and with good reason because his character isn’t likable or even morally attracting at all, but something about Caine just draws you into him the whole film. Caine’s character goes through many transitions and he makes them all seem believable and draw you into Fowler.
Brendan Fraser also stepped away from his usual goofy roles to play Pyle here and is actually pretty good. We never know what his full intention’s are but the whole time we wonder just what will Pyle end up being at the end of the film and that mystery is what kind of drew me into his character. Fraser plays a pretty nerdy guy and then gets dark real quick, but still makes it seem very believable and it’s a good thing that he doesn’t get blown away from Caine in the end.
Consensus: Caine and Fraser are very good in The Quiet American but this pretty film suffers from some bad writing, metaphors that are too obvious, and film that is practically spoiled within it’s first 10 minutes and takes you out of the whole film.