A stylish political thriller where love and war collide in Southeast Asia. Set in early 1950s Vietnam, a young American becomes entangled in a dangerous love triangle when he falls for the beautiful mistress of a British journalist. As war is waged around them, these three only sink deeper into a world of drugs, passion, and betrayal where nothing is as it seems.
The mood of wry disillusion that seeps through the screen adaptation of Graham Greene's novel "The Quiet American" is sounded in the movie's opening moments by the voice of Michael Caine musing dreamily on the mystique of Saigon in the early 1950's. It is a place, declares his character, Thomas Fowler, where colors and tastes seem sharper than they do elsewhere and where even the rain has a special intensity. Fowler is a wistfully cynical British journalist who has fled an arid marriage in England to live in Southeast Asia, where he is reporting on the Vietnamese fight for independence from French colonial rule. Fowler may be the richest character of Mr. Caine's screen career. Slipping into his skin with an effortless grace, this great English actor gives a performance of astonishing understatement whose tone wavers delicately between irony and sadness. — Stephen Holden
2002-11-22 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of The Quiet American