All style and very little substance, it comes as quite a surprise that 'The Tourist' is the follow-up to Oscar-winner 'The Lives of Others'. Writer/ director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has chosen this shallow, star-studded vehicle as his first foray into Hollywood features or rather it chose him.
Looking for a short-shoot, pretty-located film ahead of Brad Pitts' work on 'Moneyball', Jolie jumped at the chance to bring her family to Venice and Paris, before recommending Henckel von Donnersmarck to helm the project.
This light-hearted tale of mistaken identity begins in the French capital as Elise (Jolie) gets a message from her ex, the mysterious Alexander, who is on the run. Aware that in an effort to catch him, she is under police surveillance, he hatches a plan to get the wrong guy arrested. En route to Venice by train, she chooses Mr. Average, Frank (Depp) as the fall-guy. Her spell-binding beauty and sex appeal is such that the schoolteacher cannot resist. It's been two years since she last saw her lover and yet at the drop of a hat, she leaves her life in search of his, happy to land a hapless innocent in the clink. Let the games and farce begin.
It's not long before the plot has lost the run of itself, leaving Jolie and Depp to pick up the pieces. The two actors play against type, Jolie as a lady-like alternative to her usual action heroine. Her character is so one-dimensional that it would have been preferable if she Wonder Woman-ed out of her stylish get-up and into a gripping storyline but alas, it is not to be.
It's refreshing to see Depp play it straight in contrast to his tipsy, whacky 'Pirates', 'Charlie' and 'Alice' antics, although Capn' Jack does sneak out on occasion.
Serious Oscar contenders can rest assured; the only hopeful here is Colleen Atwood's stunning costume design, which has already earned her two Academy Awards for 'Chicago' and 'Memoirs of a Geisha'.
'The Tourist' is more of an ad for Venice then it is a serious thriller. It's a shameless bit of glamorous fun and the two leads will ensure that it’s a date-night hit when pitched against saccharin-festive or CGI alternatives.