The Quiet American

 (604)
7.01 h 40 min2002R
From the classic novel by Graham Greene comes a murder mystery centered on a love triangle set against the French Indochina War in Vietnam, circa 1952.
Directors
Phillip Noyce
Starring
Brendan FraserMichael CaineRade Sherbedgia
Genres
SuspenseDramaRomance
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Do Thi Hai Yen
Producers
William HorbergStaffan Ahrenberg
Studio
Miramax
Rating
R (Restricted)
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
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Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

604 global ratings

  1. 65% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 20% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

John P. Jones IIIReviewed in the United States on May 21, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
“He was impregnably armoured by his good intentions and his ignorance.”…
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The visual version. There is only one book that I have read three times, this one by Graham Greene. I reviewed the book at Amazon in March, 2009. In the review I said the following:

“It was January, 1994, and I was leaving the Hanoi War Museum, one of the first wave of Americans to return. Vietnam was just on the cusp of letting tourists wander the country freely; the War Museum had not been "sanitized" yet (which would happen in only two more years), to remove exhibits that might offend our "sensibilities." And over in the corner was an elderly Vietnamese lady, selling books from a small pile, only two of which were in English, this being one of them. Was it just chance, or did she know that this was the quintessential book about the American involvement in Vietnam, prescient beyond belief, having been written at the very, very beginning, in 1955? I had read it prior to my first, year-long trip there, and decided to purchase another copy.”

The subject quote is Greene’s description of Alden Pyle, “over schooled and under educated,” with his head stuffed full of the ideas of Ivy League Professor York Harding. Pyle is a man “on a mission,” literally, as the film reveals, working for the updated version of the OSS, the CIA. He is to develop a “third force” in Vietnam. Thomas Fowler is the “old Asian hand,” a cynical British middle-aged reporter for The Times (of London), in exile, in part, from his Catholic wife. And there is Phoung, an attractive Vietnamese woman who is trying to make the best of a bad situation, and is the lover of both men.

Philip Noyce directed this movie which was released in 2002. Michael Caine plays well the cynical Fowler, hoping to hold on to his job, in the comfortable “East.” Brendan Fraser plays Pyle. Muscular and chunky, he just needed a buzz cut. Phoung is admirably played by Do Thi Hai Yes, and the French detective who knows that Fowler is the one responsible is played by Rade Sherbedgia.

The movie gave greater weight to the rivalry of the two men for Phoung than the book. It did remain true to several critical aspects of the novel, from Pyle saving Fowler’s life, on the road back to Saigon, at the watchtower, to making the decision no longer to be a detached observer and finally taking sides, by placing the book in the window.

Terrorism. To me, there is no question that artillery shelling in designated (and populated) “free fire zones” is terroristic, as is B-52 bombing, particularly in large swaths of rural Cambodia, helping to give rise to the Khmer Rouge, but this movie provides a very graphic depiction of the type of terrorism that American leadership routinely denounces: plastic explosives in car bombs, killing civilians in a city center. And it is Pyle who is responsible – managing to overlook the blood and guts for the “higher goal” of York Harding’s vision of a third force.

At one point Fowler and Pyle complete the same poem together: “And if by chance I run over a cad…I can pay for the damage, if ever so bad.” But America never even tried, and if we had, it would still have been impossible.

Now I’ve had three reads, and one view, of the quintessential American tragedy. 5-stars.
5 people found this helpful
a waltherReviewed in the United States on March 22, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
but is actually a good thing since there is so much history and wonderful ...
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Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American continued (at the time of 2002 release of Quiet American movie) to be sold on the streets of Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City, as a 'true' document to the history of 20th century Viet Nam.
This is one of many interesting references made in the commentary of THE QUIET AMERICAN (from stars Michael Caine - fought as a 19 year old in Korea(!) at the same time QUIET AMERICAN is taking place - as Brit journalist Thomas Fowler; and Brendan Fraser as The American; and Executive producers Sydney Pollack(!); and Australian Director Philip Noyce reminds: "...Aussies had soldiers in Viet Nam too..." all speak well of themselves as well as the 100's of Vietnamese used as xtras in front and behind the scenes wanting to do their part to represent the Vietnamese in this important personal story...)
THE QUIET AMERICAN is one of those rare movies that feels longer than it is, but is actually a good thing since there is so much history and wonderful period detail of Saigon circa 1952, for example.
Seeing this, again, with subtitles and listening to commentary is nothing less than a marvel of historical significance and further understanding that I would replay scenes and dialogue over and over as the clarity of the not welcome French Colonialists (eventually) inspired Ho Chi Minh to say he preferred 100,000 Americans in Indochina as opposed to any French (in 1952)!

Also, of note, is the fact THE QUIET AMERICAN was delayed release in the U.S because a preview audience just days after Sept 11, 2001 did not react well to (basically OSS -- becoming the CIA) Graham Greene's controversial and debatable, Anti-American stance.
This is one of those reviews I want to 'cram' in so much info, but I do not want to say too much for those who don't know a great deal about the novel.
Laos, Cambodia and the "17th Parallel" were 'born' from this period in time.

Christopher Doyle's cinematography is nothing short of perfectly vivid.
Amazing cinema. If you liked the political dramas "Under Fire" (Nicaragua), "Year of Living Dangerously" (Indonesia), and/or "Salvador", you should thoroughly enjoy this edition to a great, important genre of film.
5 stars! This movie truly deserves more recognition. Watch it once. Watch it again. Use the subtitles and Commentary.
This QUIET AMERICAN blows the, uh, Audie Murphy version away, to put it mildly.
15 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on January 17, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Story full of symbolism about the Americans entering the Vietnam War
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The Quiet American was based upon a 1950s book by Graham Greene about the end of French colonial rule in Vietnam and the start of the American involvement there. The story revolves around British journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine) as the outside observer of events in Vietnam, Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) who is a diplomat who obviously represents the Americans, and Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen) who is Fowler’s girlfriend but who starts seeing Pyle. The movie begins at the end and flashes back to explain how things transpired.

The story is full of symbolism. Phuong going from Fowler to Pyle for instance is about Vietnam passing from old Europe to the United States. The Americans came claiming they were supporting democracy but propped up military men who had no interest in people’s rule as the future of the country. Pyle claiming the Americans could do in Vietnam what the French couldn’t stood for the hubris of Washington when it entered the war.

The movie works on several different levels from the political to the personal between Fowler, Pyle and Phuong.
C
2 people found this helpful
RDDReviewed in the United States on August 20, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Superior Remake!
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Phillip Noyce’s 2002 film, “The Quiet American,” adapts Graham Greene’s 1955 novel that metaphorically discusses the coming of the Vietnam War and how various imperial powers, the United Kingdom/France and the U.S., exacerbated the problems they hoped to forestall by interfering. Noyce’s film was the second adaption following Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1958 film, though Mankiewicz completely inverted Greene’s warning and turned the story into a pro-intervention narrative. In this case, the remake is the more faithful and superior film to Greene’s story. The film focuses on a love triangle between English reporter Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), Phuong (Thi Hai Yen Do), and American CIA agent Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser). Each character represents part of the growing conflict in Vietnam, with Pyle standing in for the United States’ determination to intervene to block Communism, while Fowler represents the old European imperial powers whose influence in the region wanes. Phuong stands between them, denied the ability to make her own way. Greene’s novel was particularly prescient for its time and Noyce uses his film adaptation both to rectify the errors of Mankiewicz’s film while offering a timely warning in 2002 as the U.S. was once again intervening in conflicts it did not fully understand and whose impact it would not fully realize for decades. “The Quiet American” is a brilliant work of cinema, worthy of study in film and U.S. history classes, and all the more timely given recent events.
Harald Dahle-SladekReviewed in the United States on July 22, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Quiet American: A Movie about Contradictory Human Values
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In his novel, "The Quiet American", Graham Greene takes us on a trip deep into the human psyche as the seemingly superficial story about an English reporters love story with a local Vietnamese girl and the introduction of an American CIA agent camouflaged as an Embassy representative in the 1950's Saigon, slowly takes us on a tour de force that twists and turns until the reader stands "face to face" with the most important sentence in the book, "Sooner or later Mr. Fowler one has to take sides, one has to remain human."

Graham Greene wrote the book in protest of the Unites States' war mongering camouflaged as "spreading Democracy." "The title of Graham Greene's 1955 Vietnam novel is a joke", writes author Robert Stone in his introduction to the Graham Greene Centennial 1904-2004 the Quiet American deluxe Edition (which I bought here on Amazon). Stone continues to observe that, "the eponymous character is not quiet. Like all the Americans who appear in its deft, succinct story, Alden Pyle (the CIA agent) is a prattling fool; Pyle goes on to illustrate the joke's unspoken punch line: the only quiet American is a dead American."

FROM BOOK TO FILM
In the movie by the same name, director Philip Noyce has been faithful to the central theme in Graham Greene's novel, namely as human beings we must choose the humanistic path in order to remain human. This is not a "sheep little film" about love, betrayal, war and politics. It is, however, a masterful and beautiful filmatic presentation of how painful it can be and how much we must endure as humans in order to make the right choices, often under the most severe of circumstances.

In a confusing time like ours with regime changes and social upheavals appearing on the television screens on an almost weekly basis; where respect for human life, integrity and dignity is on a sharp decline, the precision made movie, "The Quiet American" will continue to be a valuable and necessary reminder to all of us of the importance of staying clear of superficial slogans and synthetic regime changes and instead adapt to true, humanistic values.

THE THREE LEAD ACTORS
Sir Michael Caine, Do Thi Hai Yen and Brendan Fraser each play out their roles with convincing intelligence, style and truth-wordiness.

The well known and greatly appreciated English actor, Sir Michael Caine makes a memorable impression in the "The Quiet American" for which he was Academy Award Nominated for best actor in leading role, 2003. Several of Caine's classic films have been remade, including The Italian Job, Get Carter, Alfie and Sleuth. It was reported by Empire magazine that Caine had said that the movie "Harry Brown" which was released on 13 November 2009 would be his last lead role, but he later declared in the Daily Mirror that he had been misquoted by the magazine.

The Vietnamese actress Do Thi Hai Yen is well known for her superb interpretations in films like "Song of the Stork" (Singapore), by Nguyễn Phan Quang Bình (Vietnam) and Jonathan Foo (Singapore). The film received the "Best Feature Film" award at the Milan Film Festival in 2002 and was nominated for Grand Prix award at the Paris Film Festival in 2003.

We know the Canadian actor Fraser James Brendan from his portraying of Rick O'Connell in the three-part Mummy film series (1999, 2001, and 2008) He is known for his comedic and fantasy film leading roles in major Hollywood films, including Encino Man (1992), George of the Jungle (1997), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

The Quiet American is a superbly well made film, with breathtaking cinematographic beauty. A filmatic experience of the highest order definitively not to be missed! Five Stars+
7 people found this helpful
Ice Pick MikeReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
DVD didn't work.
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The DVD did not play and it was tried in two different players, a PS3 and a PS4. The packaging stated it had a security device inside the DVD case, it did not which led me to think it was a counterfeit. This is a terrific movie and I was very disappointed I did not get to watch it or have it in the collection. I returned it for refund.
Sherri BriganceReviewed in the United States on April 11, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A slow burn, worth the time
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I almost didn't finish this movie, I felt bored with this love story that seemed to be going nowhere. But I went back and read some reviews and decided to finish it. I'm glad I did. The last part is so powerful and raw. It provides the backdrop behind the Americans entering Vietnam, and the treachery our own government has added to the deaths of many innocents in the ugly game of war.
Brian E. ErlandReviewed in the United States on October 4, 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars
"It's Not That Easy To Remain Uninvolved" ~ Making Choices And Accepting The Consequences
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'The Quiet American' is a hauntingly tragic and beautifully told tale offering a glimpse of what was once the exotic 'Pearl of the Orient,' Vietnam prior to the death and devastation of the war-torn '60's. The opening sequence of Saigon at night draws the viewer into its flickering lights and surreal landscape and doesn't release you until the very end when we once again return to the same harbor setting leaving the beleaguered country to its inevitable fate.

The year is 1952 and France is the colonial power battling the Chinese Communist for control of the country. For the most part the fighting is taking place in remote villages so life in the city goes on as though nothing is wrong. Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine) is a married, middle-aged British correspondent living in Saigon with a lovely young Vietnamese girl named Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). While they both have feelings for each other their relationship appears doomed to failure because Thomas' wife back in England refuses to grant him a divorce. The life and feelings shared betweem Thomas and Phuong can only be temporal in nature as the possiblity of being recalled back to London by his employer looms forever on the horizon.

However things soon change with a sudden arrival of Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) a young American who falls in love with Phuong and wishes to marry her and take her back to the states.

Their love triangle allegorically tells the story of Vietnam in microcosm. Phuong is Vietnam, fragile, lovely and without hope. Thomas (Europe) longs to possess her, but offers no hope for a brighter and secure future. Alden (America) seems to be her one hope for a long and happy life if she could only escape to the U.S.A. Alas, first impressions and heartfelt promises are not always what they seem to be. Alden has alterative motives in Vietnam that jeporadize not only his life but Phuong's hope of a new life.

Michael Caine is brilliant as the self-absorbed Englishman who finally comes to grips with reality and realizes "sooner or later one has to take sides if one is to remain human" and Do Thi Hai Yen is an absolute dream as the enchanting Phoung. Also wonderful performances by Brendan Fraser and Tz Ma as Hinh.
2 people found this helpful
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