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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Quiet American (2002)



Reviews and Comments

"Sooner or later, Mr. Fowler, one has to take sides if one is to remain human."

In the opening narration, a London Times reporter (Michael Caine) tells us that it is easy to love Vietnam, to become so absorbed in its beauty and pleasures as to forget there's a war on...until something happens to provide a jolt back to reality. This is an uncanny description of the movie itself: most of the film consists of scenes in nightclubs, outdoor restaurants, and colorfully decorated apartments. Although the movie is about the war and the politics surrounding it, and the fact that the two main characters are there because of it, just two brief scenes confront us with the reality of war. As Caine's character does, we may find ourselves thinking a love triangle is the matter of paramount importance here.

It's an interesting thing about humanity: we are complex beings and sometimes do things for complex reasons. The film is narrated by Caine's character and told from his point of view. We see everything through his eyes, hear his inner thoughts, and consequently learn much about him. Yet for all we learn, do we really know why, when he finally takes action, he does what he does?

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