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:: The Quiet American

Adapted from the Graham Greene novel, director Phillip Noyce recreates the South-East Asian war in French occupied Vietnam in the 1950s. Set in Saigon during Vietnam’s fight for independence, London Times journalist Thomas Fowler claims the American murdered body found, belonged to a friend of his.

The narrative shifts back in time to when Fowler meets American Aid worker Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser). The two becomes friends and realise that their paths will be inextricably linked for more than just a few casual encounters, especially when Pyle instantly takes a liking to Fowlers young and beautiful Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). Meanwhile Fowler must find more work and more stories in order to keep himself in Vietnam and with Phuong. After some unexpected discoveries about his not so quiet American friend Pyle, this quiet Brit begins to suspect that Pyle is not all that he presents himself to be, and sets off on his trail which perfectly fits into his plans to track a story to stay in the country. More revelations follow about Pyle as he so boldly declares his intentions to marry Phuong and give the respectable life that she needs and that Fowler cannot provide, as he is still married. The romantic love story that ensues between the tug of war between the two men and Phuong is externalised as the political drama unfolds in Vietnam’s war conflict between the French and Communists.

Noyce has laid out a beautiful adaptation for the audience to feast on with its magnificent cinematography, capturing the polarisation of a war torn country, unsure of its identity. The lush, rich, beauty of the jungle and forests contrasts with the bright and ambient rush of the city streets and taxi dancers in Saigon. Michael Caine is perfectly suited to his role as a jaded and unaffected Fowler, who wants nothing more in his life than to be with the woman he loves and smoke his opium pipe. Brendan Fraser is also well cast as the duplicitous American who is vulnerable near the woman he loves but falters when his harsh duties call for him to assist in the towns square bombing in Saigon, which is also magnificently captured and a memorable moment in the film.

The brilliant voice-overs add to the many layers and textures the film releases. Although it may seem slow moving at first the gradually build up is well worth the wait.

Screening at the George Cinemas, Cinema Nova, Westgarth Theatre, Rivoli Cinemas, Brighton Bay Cinema, and Cinema Europa.