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The Tourist Reviews: "Retro," "Ludicrous Fairy Tale," Jolie "Sexy As Hell"

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 10, 2010 at 7:18AM

The Tourist is one of the oddest star vehicles to come out of the Hollywood dream factory in some time. It's determinedly retro, and as directed by The Lives of Others' Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck--in a bid for big-studio acceptance--it's sincere in a way that few American directors would have managed. It's not hip at all. Von Donnersmarck is trying to make an old Hollywood fantasy surrounding two gorgeous movie stars. I can't imagine any men going to see this movie, which mainly offers romantic escape. The reviews are execrable: The Tomatometer is 17% rotten.
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Thompson on Hollywood


The Tourist is one of the oddest star vehicles to come out of the Hollywood dream factory in some time. It's determinedly retro, and as directed by The Lives of Others' Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck--in a bid for big-studio acceptance--it's sincere in a way that few American directors would have managed. It's not hip at all. Von Donnersmarck is trying to make an old Hollywood fantasy surrounding two gorgeous movie stars. I can't imagine any men going to see this movie, which mainly offers romantic escape. The reviews are execrable: The Tomatometer is 17% rotten.

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie know exactly what they are doing. Set in Paris, on a speeding train, and Venice, the movie is a guilty pleasure. Jolie has never been more ludicrously Barbie-Doll/Sophia Loren glamorous, while Depp goes the other way and de-glams himself with naked eye lids, square-toed clodhoppers and a scraggly beard. It's funny when the depressed math teacher from Wisconsin, totally out of his depth, speaks Spanish to the Italians: "Gracias," Depp says to a crooked cop. "De nada," he replies. In this movie, the rube midwestern man gets the glam makeover, adding eyeliner, beard trim, white dinner jacket, tango moves and a real cigarette when he returns to get his girI.

Does it work? No. Is it worth your money? No. But it was mildly diverting. A sampling of reviewers' pans are below.

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips:

"The Tourist is a facsimile of a masquerade of a gloss on Charade, and on all the lesser cinematic charades that followed…While it's fairly easy to take in its retro way — it certainly takes it easy on the audience — it's a peculiar sort of … leisure thriller…The Tourist offers four deluxe cinematic locales: Paris, Venice, Depp and Angelina Jolie. For this assignment director and co-writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, best known for The Lives of Others, has no interest in politics or real life or even the planet Earth. He and his colleagues are making a serenely ludicrous Continental fairy tale."

THR's Todd McCarthy:

"What's served under a label promising first-class champagne tastes like last night's prosecco in The Tourist. Staggeringly misjudged in virtually every department, from the wannabe effervescent script to Johnny Depp's dopey hairdo, this zero-chemistry pairing of Angelina Jolie and Depp stands as an object lesson in the perils of succumbing to the siren call of big-time Hollywood filmmaking for a foreign director with one art house hit behind him. The publicity machine will work overtime to drum up some initial business, but this Sony release promises to drown in a bog of its own making...Surely Donnersmarck did not set out to remake Death in Venice, but artistically, that is what has been achieved."

EW's Owen Gleiberman:

"The star wattage, in theory, could hardly get much hotter…The Tourist has a relaxed, at times ramblingly archaic tone…the slinky, saucy Jolie turns every scene into a playful series of poses. After a while, though, you wish she'd stop posing. She's a great image, but never seems to be a real person…The Tourist isn't a debacle, but it's a caper that's fatally low on carbonation. It's clear that Henckel von Donnersmarck adores his film's popcorn tropes for the clichés they are. He's not out to transcend the tropes — he wants to get out of their way. But a filmmaker as gifted as he is should figure out soon that there's a big difference in Hollywood between playing to crowds and pleasing them."

ABC's Christy Lemire:

"If you're in the mood for mindless, escapist fun — dazzling scenery, elegant evenings, decadent hotel suites and expensive clothes — you'll be fine…Watching Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie bounce off each other isn't torture. Pretty people went to Venice and made a pretty movie. Joining them won't be thoroughly satisfying, but it won't kill you, either…These acclaimed talents — Oscar winners, all — have given us something unabashedly light, frothy and ridiculous — almost knowingly preposterous. But still, fun, so if you feel like shutting your brain off for a little when there's so much heady awards bait out there, this isn't a horrible way to go."
Thompson on Hollywood

Roger Ebert:

"There’s a way to make a movie like The Tourist but Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck doesn’t find that way…As the mystery woman, Angelina Jolie does her darnedest. She gets the joke. Here is a movie in which she begins in a Paris cafe, eludes cops by dashing into the Metro, takes an overnight train to Venice, picks up a strange man (Johnny Depp) and checks them both into the Royal Danelli without one wrinkle on her dress or one hair out of place. And is sexy as hell. This is the Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly role, and she knows it…It doesn’t matter that the plot is absurd. That goes with the territory. But if it’s not going to be nonstop idiotic action, then the acting and dialogue need a little style and grace and kidding around. Jolie plays her femme fatale with flat-out, drop-dead sexuality. Depp plays his Wisconsin math teacher as a man waiting for the school bell to ring so he can go bowling. The other actors are concealed in the shadows of their archetypes. Cary Grant would have known how to treat a lady."

This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Reviews, Winter, Action, Romance, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.