The Quiet American : The Film - The Book
Vietnam - 1952 - and aged British journalist, Thomas Fowler (Michael Cain), first meets young American philanthropist, Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), upon the busy streets of Saigon.
However, what can these two very diverse people have in common you might wonder?
Well, for Thomas, he can see in Alden the exuberance of youth - and the tenacity that he himself once possessed. And as for Alden, he can see in Thomas the wisdom of age - and the friendship of a fellow English speaker in this far off distant land.
Plus, in addition to this, Alden also takes an instant liking to Thomas' concubine, Phuong (Do Thi Hai) as well.
Thankfully, though, this fact isn't discovered by Thomas until some time later, when Alden unveils this to him whilst on an excursion in treacherous North Vietnam. Now obviously this information does dieter Thomas quite a lot - especially when he takes into consideration that Phuong wants to marry him, and that his wife (in England) does not want to give him a divorce so he can do this for them both.
Still, for a short while, this matter is complicit in the scheme of things, and life goes on its merry way.
For example; Alden gets Thomas an interview with a communist General situated in a rebel village. Alden and Thomas are attacked in the wilds. Plus Thomas witnesses a skirmish between the locals and some communist troupes on the streets. But I am afraid to say that all of this is nothing more than background noise for a world that suddenly turns a lot darker for all involved.
You see, because of Thomas's sudden strained frame of mind, he decides to lie to Phuong - by telling her that his wife is now willing to give him a divorce. However, when Alden finds this out, he deviously relays this information to Phong, thus prompting Alden to snatch her away from Thomas' frail grasp.
But you have to remember that Thomas is a journalist you know, and he is also able to snoop into other people's business just like they have done to him. Well, that is why what next transpires is a right emotional roller coaster ride I can tell you. As alliances are revealed - forbidden pacts are sealed - love is protected with a shield - and he who yields will die in the fields.
In my own personal opinion, 'The Quiet American' is just a brilliant piece of film making. The story is innovative from the original. The cast is inspired through out. And all in all it is a really nice love story set in time where love was a four letter word.
Well, just look at the facts: (1) The US release of this film was delayed by a year because of the 9/11 attacks - due to its anti-American sentiment. (2) Michael Cain only agreed to star in this film if composer, Crag Armstrong, did the music - which he did. (3) Mirimax contemplated putting this movie straight to video, but was only persuaded not to by Michael Caine, thanks to a successful Film Festival screening. (4) Tom Cruise and Heath Ledger was once associated with this movie - but nothing really happened. (5) The film ends with a montage of newspaper stories written my Michael Caines character from 1954 to 1966. However, the book that this film was based on was published in 1955 - oops! And (6) The conspiracy theory that American factions did aide the Vietnamese army before sending in troupes to attack them, is now a proven fact - double-oops!
OK, so now that I have all of that out of me noggin, I can now tell you why I love 'The Quiet American' so much. Firstly, I thought it original how this film set up the love-triangle between the three main protagonists (Caine – Fraser - Yen), and then placed no judgement on those involved - because it allowed the audience to judge who was right and wrong by the characters interactions. Secondly, Michael Cain, as always, is his ever dependable good self - and gives his acting master class in the only way he knows how - class-class-class. Thirdly, Fraser is in surprising good form as well - and effortlessly falls into his role like tea into a cup. Fourthly, Yen... sigh... how can any man not fall in love with her straight away? She’s a dream on screen, and captivating to watch in her understated way. And fifthly, Tzi Ma, what a star! OK, I know that he only plays a minor role in this film - but his presence is as full as anybody else’s.
THE RATING: A