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Butt-wise Angelina’s OK by me. Better than alright

The face that launched a pair of lips

The Tourist – Florian Henckel von Donnersmark

Butt-wise Angelina Jolie is OK with me. Better than alright. She also has the high-cheek-boned structure of lasting beauty courtesy perhaps of her part-Iroquois blood; and the rest of the kit is more than up to snuff. But Director Florian HVonD seems obsessed. Shot like an extended Chanel No 5 advert, in The Tourist Florrie dresses and edits initially to emphasise the Jolie rear then lingers longingly on every mannequinish upwards tilt of the head, sensual slight parting of the lips, catwalk swagger of the hips, teasing glide of the unfulfilled fantasy of the opening zip. I’d hang one on him Brad – the guy’s making love to your wife on screen.

If that seems a lot about Angelina Jolie – that reflects the film. Inexplicably affecting a Joanna Lumley accent, Ms Jolie appears to feel that conveying Englishness requires her to invest her always impeccable ex-model posture with a self-conscious stiff froideur: as if she is secreting an extremely long icicle from her aforementioned lower regions into her elegant, swan-like neck. But Joanna Lumley does a much better Joanna Lumley than Angelina who can only set a hands-off ice-maiden untouchability against Joanna’s delicious air of haughtiness-leads-to-naughtiness.

OK ladies, I know, when Johnny-the-shark’s around – whose looking at the bait? I guess fans will find his self-deprecating and gauche, hairy and bemused Maths teacher Frank Tupelo profoundly endearing. Yes the burning-deep eyes belie the character and the talented Mr Depp has the comic timing to make the best of the far too few, sharp one-liners in the script. But sad to say folks, there is very little chemistry on screen between these two iconic fantasy lovers.

This movie has a pretty chequered history and it shows. Switches in Casting and Direction as is often the case, leave the end-result unresolved in conception. The Tourist hovers uncomfortably between a light crime Romcom and a more edgy thriller with a love interest. Elsie, sorry Elise, is being watched by Paul Bettany’s English cops trying to capture her financier lover who disappeared owing HMC&R £750m. Meanwhile ruthless gangster Reginald (Reginald?!) Shaw, an OTT Steven Berkoff, claims first dibs as he was taken for £2billion. The absentee lover gets a message to Elise to catch the train to Venice and pick up any guy and pretend he’s him – so to speak. We are all course going to accept this without demur because the fugitive is reputed to have had £20m in plastic surgery. As plot devices go, pretty ho-hum. At least no twins.

With some empathy and much green-eyed envy we guys of course buy into Frank’s (that’s not a very good name – it’s the only one I’ve got) appalling dilemma: picked up by Angelina on a train and sharing a luxury Venice hotel overnight. Well I guess a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. It would be ungentlemanly to refuse. As the film unwinds Frank swaps fall-guy for Sir Galahad and defends her against gangsters and cops alike. In a marginally plausible plot, the final twist is more wishful thinking fun than credible outcome – but it wraps up in a nice neat bow a routine little movie masquerading as a big one.

Not bad for a night out. Safe if it’s a first date. But it is exasperating to see the under-challenged talent – from Depp to Florrie (who directed and co-wrote the marvellous Lives of Others), and Oscar-winning screenwriters Christopher McQuarry (The Usual Suspects) and Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park and Downton Abbey). One waits hopefully for a Director who can get something worthwhile out of Jolie: Michael Winterbottom got closest with the Mighty Heart. That might be the clue – she was politically engaged in that dramatised documentary. For me Eastwood miscast her in The Changeling – Jolie is made to play intelligent, professional parts, she can’t play the ordinary, the everyday. I would love to see her in serious courtroom-based drama or indeed another politically committed piece. We won’t be able to take her parts seriously until she does so herself. For that she has to play someone she respects.

(Forgive the abbreviation Florrie – but with a name like Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck itself shortened from his birth-name – Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel Von Donnersmarck you can see the problem).

Good job his dad doesn’t Direct – Maria Lazurus Leo-Ferdinand Romwolt Wilhem Edwin Gerhard Stefan Graf Henckel Von Donersmarck.

Sounds like a German World Cup teamsheet.

See also: www.zettelfilmreviews.co.uk

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