Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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. A film full of a sense of impending danger, betrayal, seduction and destruction. Quite simply, it's great stuff.
  6. 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.
  7. 75
    Caine has never been better, which is saying something. He puts a human face on a tragic era of history in a film that ranks with the year's finest.
  8. 75
    Vibrant and intriguing, a fine adaptation despite the slight departures from its source, with warm cinematography that captures the feel of '50s Saigon and two performances worthy of Oscar attention.
  9. A smart and literate effort with a few weaknesses.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    This is intelligent grown-up entertainment on both a political and a humanistic level.
  11. 75
    The acting, especially by the male leads, is superlative.
  12. It's a shame that, on top of everything else, the second movie version of The Quiet American -- Graham Greene's brilliant 1955 novel about the French Indochina war -- should be so visually disappointing.
  13. The result is a rarity on the modern screen -- a film with more brains than heart.
  14. The movie adds nothing to the political dialogue, and the love story is mood-killingly sad. The lure of the exotic can be deceptive, it says. The moody, murky atmosphere leaves nothing clear except that mixed intentions will always yield mixed results.
  15. 80
    The second version of Graham Greene's sad and prescient 1955 novel about American involvement in Vietnam hews far closer to the book than the first, preserving the sophisticated ambiguity of his depiction of a tangled struggle for power played out on both personal and political fronts.
  16. In so many ways, The Quiet American speaks volumes.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    Far from being a period piece, this love story/murder mystery/political thriller couldn’t seem more timely.
  22. 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.
  23. 100
    The narrative is lean, the supporting performances are solid, and, perhaps most crucially, the emotional tone of the piece is spot-on.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 80
    Even as The Quiet American loses focus and urgency, Caine's performance keeps the doomed spirit of Greene's hero intact.
  31. 80
    Unsettling, morally complex and timely view of American power abroad. Many will find it courageous and some, no doubt, will absolutely revile it, but no one is likely to look away from the screen.
  32. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    80
    One of Caine's meatiest roles, and he handles it with power, humanity and remarkable emotional fluidity; from the opening moments, an enormous amount comes through his eyes alone.
  33. 70
    Noyce has made a good-looking, intelligent stab at the novel, mildly undermined by a tendency to seek contemporary relevance.
  34. 70
    In short, this new Quiet American is not only true to Greene's novel -- it has the effect of making the novel itself seem truer than it has ever been.
  35. As is frequently the case when there is public fuss about a film or play, the work itself is not very good.
  36. Greene's words haunt us like a prophecy from half a century and half a world away.
  37. 80
    As a piece of acting, The Quiet American represents a fitting capper to Caine’s illustrious career; his portrait of a jaded sybarite whom history nudges into conscientious action is among the year’s most moving.
  38. 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.
  39. 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]

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