September 14, 2002 
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Michael Caine
There's no silencing The Quiet American
Michael Caine-Brendan Fraser starrer opens to a good response at Toronto fest

Arthur J Pais

When Miramax acquired the American rights for The Quiet American, the studio known for its Oscar-winning hits like Shakespeare In Love, was impressed by the movie's potential in art houses.

Now, there is a strong buzz that Miramax is not keen on releasing the film, even though it earned wide attention and good reviews at the Toronto international film festival. Miramax had purchased the film before 9/11.

The studio is not responding to the negative buzz about the film being dumped. But many at the film festival felt Miramax may not want to face the criticism of making profits from a film critical of America, even though it is set in the 1950s.

The scenes of Americans helping terrorism in Vietnam to promote an anti-Communist leader could offend some Americans who have become over sensitive to criticism against their country following 9/11 attacks.
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The new movie was an interesting departure for director Philip Noyce who, after making small-budget but highly interesting films like Newsfront in Australia, had graduated to making the flashy Patriot Games kind of films in the US.

Now, Noyce has returned to intimate filmmaking. The movie stars Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser. It satisfies as a brooding, often gripping, political thriller as well as a love triangle, offering excellent insights into the heart of an ageing journalist who seeks to find emotional satisfaction from a Vietnamese woman younger to him.

Noyce's film is one of the best adaptations of any Graham Greene novel. Greene was a master of setting troubled men and women in dangerous situations in England and abroad.

But knowing the market for such films is limited, Noyce made it on a comparatively small budget. While Patriot Games cost about $70 million ten years ago, the new movie was made at $30 million.

The Quiet American, an intriguing and compellingly atmospheric film, was one of the better-received movies at the Toronto International Film Festival. Caine, who plays a dissipating and yet a sharply observing British journalist, could get an Oscar nomination. He spent several days in Toronto, along with Noyce, to promote the movie.

The story set in a Vietnam still ruled by the French foretells the devastating American involvement in the country. Fraser plays the seemingly innocent and quiet American who does not quite emerge the man he pretends to be.

The sombre film was not expected to be a huge hit. Many believed that if properly handled and well publicised, it could earn $5-$7 million in America, like The End Of The Affair, another movie based on a Graham Greene novel did a few years ago.

If Miramax finally decides not to release the film, it might sell it to an independent distributor.


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