Quiet American [2002]

The Quiet American proves that elegant and intelligent filmmaking can be emotionally powerful. Michael Caine plays Thomas Fowler, a British journalist in 1950s Vietnam with a lovely Vietnamese mistress named Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen) and a jaded view of the political strife teeming around him. He befriends a seemingly innocuous American named Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), who falls in love with Phuong--and slowly, Pyle's real purpose in Vietnam becomes revealed. Fowler finds that, to hold on to the carefully balanced life he's created for himself, he must make choices he's long avoided. Caine and Fraser are both superb and give a human face to complicated politics; as a result, The Quiet American manages to be compelling as both history and a story about very specific people embroiled in a very personal conflict. An impressive film from director Philip Noyce (Rabbit-Proof Fence, Patriot Games). --Bret Fetzer

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