Friday, April 15, 2011

(Totally Not) Under 250: The Tourist

It is a truth universally acknowledged (by everyone outside of the apparently sycophant-filled Hollywood Foreign Press, that is) that The Tourist is something of a flaming pile of celluloid shit. Still, when Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie are involved, people will watch.  I'm no exception to the people rule.  I watched The Tourist some time ago.  Then I didn't want to bother with it.  Now I've overcome my laziness to bring you this fun fact: The Tourist is a turd from a purebred French poodle sprayed with metallic paint, bedazzled by Damien Hirst with cubic zirconia, lit on fire, and left at your front door.  It's a big shiny mistep and a really poor addition to most evenings.  I say this as someone who secretly hoped it would be otherwise.  When I sat down I knew I wouldn't be getting something actually "deserving" of Golden Globe nominations, but I was hoping for a bit of espionage camp.  Didn't happen.  The Tourist is a cinema case study in which everyone and everything seems to be operating on different wavelengths.  Depp, with an unflattering haircut and puffy face, appears to be trying really hard to make this a zany spoof.  Jolie saunters about doing this thing where her makeup is always perfect and the camera does these slow motion close-ups on her like she's supposed to be sexy time but it's cheesier than a French market.

Meanwhile, the director (who somehow made The Lives of Others) wasn't made aware that his movie was in possession of gaping logical gaps, a too easy ending, and an unbelievable relationship; or that it would be best tackled by someone who hasn't yet received high praise as a "serious" director.  The Tourist feels like it was adapted from a script that failed to go into production in 1985, but somehow (via illegal Chinese time travel) landed in the hands of Jolie and was clumsily updated as a glamour project with cell phone technology.*  It features, in a scene that at first feels benign but becomes a deeper and deeper pit of LOL despair the longer you consider it, the slowest boat chase ever.  Also, it asks you (several times) to do that thing where you pretend that no one in Italy would notice people running about with guns in the street.  Impressive. Even more impressive is that its glorious Venetian scenery does less for the suckiness of the film than setting did for Eat Pray Love.  What's more?  The flirting is painful.  It's, like, a serious case of the awkwards.  You'd think two beautiful people would maybe have more chemistry just for superficial reasons alone, but it's like Brad Pitt and Vanessa Paradis were standing just off camera with a fire hose and brass knuckles giving them both the stink eye.  I'm pretty much convinced that Depp packed on an extra 15 pounds just to try to build a buffer between them.  In some ways, he looked better as the Mad Hatter.    

The Tourist's grandest offence, however, is undoubtedly the fact that's it's just plain boring.  You might keep watching it, but the viewing is this odd sort of ritual in which you wait for the film to improve as you try to figure out exactly what it's getting at (or why you should care).   By the conclusion, my level of disappointment had almost completely bottomed out.

*which, ironically, is exactly what they should not have done. Totally could have worked if they'd set it in 1960's, didn't take themselves seriously, and threw a fancy ski lodge in.

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