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dir Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
scr Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes
prd Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Tim Headington, Graham King
with Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell, Raoul Bova, Christian De Sica, Igor Jijikine, Bruno Wolkowitch, Mhamed Arezki, Jean-Marie Lamour
release UK/US 10.Dec.10
10/France StudioCanal 1h44
Out of his league: Jolie and Depp
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This is a thoroughly offbeat concoction from the gifted filmmaker behind the acclaimed The Lives of Others: a rather goofy action comedy that deflates the suspense by telling us pretty much everything from the start.
Elisa (Jolie) is a sleek, overdressed woman of mystery who is being stalked by a tenacious British detective (Bettany). When she boards a train from Paris to Venice, his men are in hot pursuit, so she sidles up to American tourist Frank (Depp) to throw them off the scent. He looks similar to her boyfriend, who's wanted by the cops and a vicious Russian mobster (Berkoff). Once in Venice, Frank finds his world turned upside both by this ludicrously elegant woman and the army of goons pursuing him at every turn.
The film is based on the playful Hitchcock-style 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer, but instead plays it as a silly romp that has absolutely no tension in it at all. We never for a moment think that Jolie will muss her hair or crinkle one of those evening gowns, or that Depp will lose his blank-eyed, mop-headed charm. Actually, only Depp bothers to create a hint of personality; Jolie plays Elise like a pouting supermodel in every scene.
Against them, Bettany has the comedy role as the flabbergasted guy just trying to do his job amid pressure from his short-tempered boss (Dalton). It's all so relentlessly thin that this surely was the filmmakers' intention all along. Either that or Hollywood meddled heavily in the process.There's a certain racy charm to the film's first act, with some smart gags and well-staged encounters. But everything is so over-explained that we never have a chance to put ourselves into Frank's predicament, and the story starts to sag under all the overstatement.
And as things progress, the script simply refuses to go beneath the surface, settling for some snappy dialog and lovely locations. It also abandons the promising sizzle between Depp and Jolie for the requirements of the plot involving the Russians and the British, none of which generates much interest. And in the end, the film merely feels like a shiny red herring.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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