Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39
Watch On
  1. 100
    Star Michael Caine, who gives one of the great, inescapably moving performances in a career filled with them, based his character on personal impressions of the late author. And Greene's lifelong concern with moral ambiguity gives this film a texture and complexity that movies don't usually achieve.
  2. 100
    The narrative is lean, the supporting performances are solid, and, perhaps most crucially, the emotional tone of the piece is spot-on.
  3. An instant classic and a dramatic beauty, a film that gets us to the core of Greene's chilly, dark and romantic view of the post-war world.
  4. 100
    This thoroughly modern movie pulls off a classical feat. It elicits the searing combination of pity and terror that leaves a viewer feeling purged.
  5. 100
    It is a film with a political point of view, but often its characters lose sight of that, in their fascination with each other and with the girl.
  6. 100
    The film reveals itself to be not so much a historical allegory as an Iliad of the heart. It's sad and smart and beautiful and true.
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    Far from being a period piece, this love story/murder mystery/political thriller couldn’t seem more timely.
  8. Noyce's movie pares away the novel's meditations on the futility of war and the importance of religion. It retains the book's thoughtful blending of psychological and moral issues.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    As thoughtful as it is handsomely acted. Caine's subtle, bold performance should guarantee him an aisle seat on Oscar night.
  10. Noyce's movie works because the director -- trusts himself, and his audience, to understand that catastrophe isn't always a matter of loud ideology. Rather, it's the result of age-old human weakness. And sometimes it's quiet.
  11. The film's real feat may be in its production design, in the sumptuousness and veracity with which it re-creates central Saigon and the Vietnamese countryside of the '50s: an exotic lost world of brothels and opium dens, trishaws and ao-dai dresses, Ming-deco interiors and water buffalos in rice paddies.
  12. Ever since the movie made a brief appearance late last year to qualify for Oscar consideration, Mr. Caine's performance has been hailed as the best of his career, and surely that's true.
  13. Fowler may be the richest character of Mr. Caine's screen career. Slipping into his skin with an effortless grace, this great English actor gives a performance of astonishing understatement whose tone wavers delicately between irony and sadness.
  14. Thanks to Caine's subtly nuanced performance, there's a deeper dimension to everything. He's snappily ironic at times, sometimes amazingly delicate, always engaging.
  15. Beautifully directed by Phillip Noyce, the film -- is a full experience, a love story and a murder mystery that expands into a meditation on the deep deceptions of innocence.
  16. Caine has already been cited as a likely Oscar nominee for his performance, which is clearly one of the most nuanced to date from this first-rate actor, and Fraser is funny and effective as a foil to the old pro.
  17. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    Caine makes Hampton's too-literary narration work by playing it as an inner dialogue: It's the best performance of narration I've ever heard. It makes you want to hear Caine read the whole book--or read anything.
  18. 90
    Noyce takes a great deal of care with this adaptation. For one thing, he includes as much of Greene's potent shorthand as he can without weighing the movie down.
  19. 90
    I cannot remember a major movie, not even "The Godfather," that forced me to peer so intently into the gloom. [2 December 2002, p. 87]
  20. In so many ways, The Quiet American speaks volumes.
  21. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    The key to why the new ''American'' is so good and so true, though, is Brendan Fraser as the title character.
  22. A film full of a sense of impending danger, betrayal, seduction and destruction. Quite simply, it's great stuff.

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