The Quiet American (2002 film)
|The Quiet American|
|Directed by||Phillip Noyce|
|Produced by||Staffan Ahrenberg
|Written by||Christopher Hampton
|Based on||The Quiet American
by Graham Greene
Do Thi Hai Yen
|Music by||Craig Armstrong|
|Edited by||John Scott|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
The 2002 version of The Quiet American, in contrast to the 1958 version, depicted Greene's original ending and treatment of the principal American character, Pyle. Like the novel, the film illustrates Pyle's moral culpability in arranging terrorist actions aimed at the French colonial government and the Viet Minh. Going beyond Greene's original work, the film used a montage ending with superimposed images of American soldiers from the intervening decades of the Vietnam War.
Miramax had paid $5.5 million for the rights to distribute the film in North America and some other territories, and this film went on to gross US$12.9 million in limited theatrical release in the United States. The film received positive reviews from critics and Michael Caine was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Set in 1952 in Saigon, Vietnam, toward the end of the French war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945-1954), on one level The Quiet American is a love story about the triangle that develops between Thomas Fowler, a British journalist in his fifties; a young American idealist, supposedly an aid worker, named Alden Pyle; and Phuong, a Vietnamese woman. On another level it is also about the growing American involvement that led to the full-scale American war in Vietnam.
Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), who narrates the story, is involved in the war only as a reporter, an unengaged observer, apart from one crucial event. Pyle (Brendan Fraser), who represents America and its policies in Vietnam, is a CIA operative sent to steer the war according to America’s interests, and is passionately devoted to the ideas of York Harding, an American foreign policy theorist who said that what Vietnam needed was a "third force" to take the place of both the colonialists and the Vietnamese rebels and restore order. This supposedly anti-colonialist and anti-communist force was plainly meant to be America, and so Pyle sets about creating a "Third Force" against the Viet Minh by using a Vietnamese splinter group headed by corrupt militia leader General Thé (based on the actual Trinh Minh The). His arming of Thé's militia with American weaponry leads to a series of terrorist bombings in Saigon. These bombings, dishonestly blamed on the Communists in order to further American outrage, kill a number of innocent people, including women and children.
Meanwhile, Pyle has stolen Fowler's Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), promising her marriage and security. When Fowler finds out about Pyle's involvement in the bombings, he takes one definitive action to seal all of their fates. He indirectly agrees to let his assistant, Hinh (Tzi Ma), and his Communist cohorts confront Pyle; when Pyle tries to flee, Hinh fatally stabs him. Phuong subsequently returns to Fowler, and while the local French police commander (Rade Šerbedžija) suspects Fowler's role in Pyle's murder, he has no evidence and does not pursue the matter.
- Michael Caine as Thomas Fowler
- Brendan Fraser as Alden Pyle
- Do Thi Hai Yen as Phuong
- Rade Šerbedžija as Inspector Vigot
- Tzi Ma as Hinh
- Robert Stanton as Joe Tunney
- Holmes Osborne as Bill Granger
- Quang Hai as General Thé
The film earned positive reviews from critics, as it currently holds an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews.
- Official website
- The Quiet American at the Internet Movie Database
- The Quiet American at AllMovie
- The Quiet American at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Quiet American at Box Office Mojo
- "By the Bombs' Early Light" - essay by H. Bruce Franklin on the historical context of the novel and the 2002 film
- "Michael Caine Makes Noise: He dismisses claims that The Quiet American is somehow anti-American" - Interview with film critic Joe Leydon on controversies surrounding the film