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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany
DIRECTED BY
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
SCREENPLAY
Christopher McQuarrie, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Julian Fellowes, William Wheeler, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
104 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Columbia Pictures
DVD EXTRAS
Director Commentary
A Gala Affair
Bringing Glamour Back
Outtake Reel
 "The Tourist" Review 
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There are two major problems with The Tourist, the long imagined cinematic pairing of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.

Johnny Depp can't play normal and Angelina Jolie can't play reserved, demure or, well, classy.

Directed by Florian von Henckel Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others), The Tourist is an awkward and uncomfortable film in which both performers seem to stumble about in a way that neither performer has done in quite some time. It's easy to imagine why both Depp and Jolie signed on for the project, a potentially stylish and psychologically intriguing thriller that feels leaden and heavy under Donnersmarck's heavy-handed and decidedly non-stylish direction. While Donnersmarck doesn't quite make Depp and Jolie look plain, the director clearly fails to capitalize on the script's stylish potential despite having a hand on the script.

The film is essentially a "wrong man" thriller in which Jolie plays Elise, a woman whose boyfriend has stolen literally hundreds of millions of dollars from a gangster. Elise is called to rendezvous with him in Venice, but in an attempt to throw off those tailing her she begins what is, to her, an innocent flirtation with a Wisconsin schoolteacher named Frank (Depp) who closely resembles her boyfriend.

Can you tell where this is going?

Yep, you can.

Frank ends up genuinely fancying Elise, feelings grow and yet so do the numbers of people who are tailing Elise and tailing Frank. So, what do we have here? A romantic thriller featuring two of the planet's sexiest stars in some of the world's most beautiful locales.

So, again, why is so much of The Tourist so incredibly plain?

There's little denying that Depp is one of America's finest actors, but in The Tourist it's as if he showed up onset and after a few moments with Donnersmarck figured out the entire thing was a lost cause so why invest. There's little passion in the romance, little excitement in the action and disappointingly little spark between Jolie and Depp. One can only assume that if this few sparks really flew between Depp and Jolie that Brad Pitt certainly has nothing to worry about with this mega-star pairing. Fortunately for Depp, another round with Captain Jack is right around the corner.

The simple truth is that Jolie appears uncomfortable playing this type of character, with her classy and more reserved character too often coming off as just plain snobby and unappealing. Depp, on the other hand, just doesn't seem to give a rat's ass here and The Tourist is yet another cinematic argument that when Depp dresses down he really dials down his performance.

What surprises the writers attempt to pull off aren't particularly surprising and, even more unfortunately, they're completely ludicrous. There's no doubt that Donnersmarck is going for a Hitchcockian feeling here, but instead serves up clear proof that Donnersmarck is no Hitchcock.

The locales are beautiful, the styles are abundant yet even the film's production design and costuming feel awkward and uncomfortable as Depp is saddled with what may be his worst haircut ever onscreen and Jolie, while certainly able to pull off the tall and lanky look, seems to be looking around for a starving child to tend to or adopt.

If you've seen the trailer for The Tourist, then you're likely already suspicious of the film. The trailer appears to be, well,  how many times can I say awkward? Even worse, you get a clear indication in the trailer of just how uninspired and uninvolving this entire production turns out.

There is one way in which The Tourist reminds me of Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean films. Once again, Depp appears to be lost at sea. The Tourist is one of awards seasons biggest disappointments, and only the most diehard Depp and Jolie fans should consider this one a theatrical must see.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
    The Official Rating Guideline
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