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The Quiet American

4.3 out of 5 stars 224 customer reviews

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(Jun 14, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Set during the Vietnam War, a young Vietnamese woman must choose between an opium-addicted British reporter and an American CIA agent.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: June 14, 2011
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0051HCVEU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,158 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

THE QUIET AMERICAN is a successful and intriguing adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel. In 1952 a veteran British journalist (Michael Caine) is stationed in Saigon to cover the events of the French Indochina War. Caine meets a young idealistic American doctor (Brendan Fraser) at an outdoor cafe and they soon become friends. But soon enough their friendship becomes complicated when Fraser becomes attracted to Caine's girlfriend (Do Thi Hai Yen) who is a beautiful Vietnamese woman.
What follows is an often suspenseful film that addresses the battle of French colonialism against the Communist advance from the north and the role of a third party to defeat the two former enemies. Caught in the middle is Caine, Fraser and the woman that they both love as they navigate the dramatic changes which are occurring in Vietnam each day. Caine discover that people are not who they claim to be.
One of the most stunning aspects of THE QUIET AMERICAN is the cinematography by Christopher Doyle which captures the beautiful green and lush Vietnamese countryside filled with mountains and lakes and rivers. I have to admit that prior to deeing this film I was not a big fan of Michael Caine, but his performance is admirable and convincing. I now understand why he was nominated for an Oscar -- and I believe he is a strong contender. THE QUIET AMERICAN is one of the best films I have seen in some time.
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Michael Caine has managed a large number of superb performances over the years, but this is probably his finest film in many, many years. Although Brendan Fraser and the remarkably beautiful Do Thi Hai Yen are excellent in the other two main roles, this film lives or dies with the character of Thomas Fowler. Thankfully, Caine is stunning. His performance is quiet, nuanced, and remarkably subtle. It is paradoxically one of the most emotional performances he has given in some time, but at the same time one of his more subdued.
The film is set in Vietnam during the French war with the Communists of North Vietnam. It is also the time when the United States began their involvement in the country, doing their part to stymie the spread of the Red Menace. The movie does a great job of presenting the emerging complexities of the conflict. There are several stunning scenes, in particular a terrorist bombing, which is one of the most vivid and horrifying instances of onscreen violence that I have witnessed in some time. But the focus of the film always remains on the interplay of the personalities. The politics of the situation is not ignored, but in the end the film is about people.
Director Philip Noyce had before 2002 been known primarily as a director of Hollywood action films, but after directing two of the finest films of this past year in THE RABBIT-PROOF FENCE and THE QUIET AMERICAN, he has suddenly emerged as one of the finer directors of serious films. I don't know what his next project is going to be, but I await it with great eagerness. He keeps both the mood and the lighting of this film very, very dark.
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2 Comments 49 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Of all the films I've seen over the years concerning America's involvement in Vietnam, THE QUIET AMERICAN is perhaps the most seductive.
It's 1952, and Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine) is the aging correspondent for the London Times in Saigon. France is in the process of being tossed out of Indochina, but the former doesn't realize it yet - Dien Bien Phu is still in the future - and its military fights on ineffectually against the communists. In the meantime, Fowler submits the occasional story to the head office while finding comfort in the arms of opium and his Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Hai Yen), a former taxi dancer at a local club. Then, one day, THE QUIET AMERICAN Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) shows up. Pyle claims to be with a medical aid mission in country to combat trachoma, a bacterial disease causing blindness. But what is Pyle, really? He seems awfully chummy with the conniving powers over at the U.S. legation. In any case, Alden very soon falls in love with Phuong, attention that neither the jealous Fowler can prevent nor Phuong finds particularly unwelcome.
Not since LITTLE VOICE (1998) has Michael Caine acted so powerfully, and this is perhaps his greatest role ever. An Academy Award nomination is deservedly due. Fraser is perfect as the clean-cut, idealistic and naïve Yank who may be something other than he claims. Yen is positively exquisite as the delicate Phuong. As Fowler puts it, his death would begin if he lost her.
THE QUIET AMERICAN, based on the Graham Greene novel, can be seen as an allegorical story of America's fledgling interest in succoring Vietnam from the Red Menace. After all, the French seem unequal to the task.
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Comment 44 of 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Michael Caine is an international treasure. His performance as an aging British journalist in 1950s Vietnam brings great depth and emotional gravity to this movie. He makes Brendan Fraser as the American who invades his life, tries to take his young Vietnamese girlfriend, seem shallow. But of course this is appropriate to Fraser�s character, who manages to be both arrogant and at the same time naïve.
Greene�s story, now filmed with its original ending, now seems like a masterpiece of prophecy. The production is beautiful and thoughtful. Overall, this is everything you could ask a movie to be: thought-provoking, a great script, beautifully filmed and acted.
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