The Lady and the Frank: 10 questions about the critical reception of The Tourist
Why are critics being so harsh on this film?
1) Is it because Angelina Jolie does not jump off of any speeding semis as she does in Salt?
2) Is it because we've gotten used to Johnny Depp wearing lots of makeup? Perhaps it is because Johnny has a haircut that makes his face look plump?
3) Is it because The Tourist alludes to the train scenes of Hitchcock's North by Northwest, the tile rooftop chases of To Catch a Thief, the bathroom-under-siege scene of Foreign Correspondent, or the Venice scenes of Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley? Would the critics have preferred a more prestigious cinematic pedigree?
4) Is it because no one (except for Jolie's character) knows what the mystery man of the film, Alexander Pierce, looks like? Are we supposed to think of George Kaplan of North by Northwest or Keyser Soze of The Usual Suspects?
5) Is it because the critics prefer Jolie as an assassin (Wanted), Grendel's mother (Beowolf), or Lara Croft to the well-dressed, ladylike, demure, and "ravishing" Elise Clifton-Ward of this film? According to Jolie in Vogue, "I was looking for a very short thing to do before Brad started filming Moneyball. And I said I needed something that shoots not too long, in a nice location for my family. Somebody said there’s a script that’s been around, and it shoots in Venice and Paris. And I said, ‘Is it a character I haven’t played before?’ And they said, ‘Yes, it’s a lady.’ Uhhuhhuhhehhehheh." [Note: when it comes to defending The Tourist, Jolie doesn't help much.]
6) Is it because Paul Bettany's role as Inspector John Acheson reminded them too much of the fighting angel apocalypse of Legion?
7) Is it because today's movie critics cannot stand a film full of star quality, room service, love, a Parisian cafe, a classy restaurant, a private jet that a villain turns on a dime, motor launches in Venice canals, a gorgeous hotel suite (where Balzac and Proust stayed once, no less), and a fancy-dressed ball?
Is the film too European, too stately, and too refined for them to take?
8) The film's director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, made The Lives of Others (2006), which won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film of that year! Is that not a good enough background for a director?
9) Or is it because Depp plays an awkward American schmuck named Frank, a community college math teacher and the obvious person for the male audience member to identify with? Is it because Frank needs lessons from Elise in how to summon her to dinner on the train? Is it because Depp is the closest thing we have to Cary Grant these days?
10) Ultimately, do critics dislike The Tourist because it reminds them how far our tastes have moved away from old-fashioned movie glamour?
Meanwhile, recent awkwardness concerning The Tourist and the Golden Globes . . .