on November 25, 2003
The "editorial review" for this wonderful character study was written by Marshall Fine, a Sioux Falls, SD newspaper critic who hates everything. Pay him no mind. In film and theatre critique one draws more readers with vinegar than honey. But enough on that. Even though Accidental Tourist has no car crashes and no blood and no grimacing Rambo screaming as he wins the VietNam War singlehandedly, it is not merely a chick flick. It has pathos, it has rich characters, vividly drawn; it has sad drama and many tender laughs (Gena Davis singing, "I'm Gonna Bop Bop Santa Claus" for example). Macon Leary is a subdued, somewhat anal-retentive travel guide writer whose son was murdered in a fast food restaurant robbery. The tragedy destroyed his wife and ultimately his marriage. Now he must learn to travel through a world not of his own making - an Accidental Tourist. When we meet his quirky family we see he is not the dimmest candle on the cake by any means. Yet an oddly wonderful woman refuses to let him live his life as a ghost. Like all good stories of people, Macon grows, learns and changes. Those who have seen William Hurt in other films will KNOW the downplayed, lethargic portrayal is INTENDED and those who have met such empty souls will see that this portrayal is AUTHENTIC. A brilliant tale, skillfully wrought.
on May 13, 2002
"The Accidental Tourist" tries to accomplish something that not many movies attempt to do at the risk of failure. Instead of having a soundtrack in the background, there is...well, except for a few instrumentals, nothing. The director seems to be aiming to show the viewer how much silence can attribute to a picture. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work. The movie was TOO quiet and sullen without sappy love ballads to die it together. The picture also seems vague and dark, creating a feeling of despair that the characters themselves feel. Had these two flaws not been in here, the movie would've been practically perfect.
The movie starts off with Sarah[Kathleen Turner], a mother whose 12-year-old son was murdered over a year ago, telling her husband Macon[William Hurt] that she wants a divorce. This, of course, leaves Macon totally distraught-not only are his wife and son gone, his dog Edward is distraught himself over the loss of his companion. As Macon leaves Edward at a pet shop, he comes across the owner and doesn't know quite what to think. If first impressions count, Macon and viewer will both be puzzled at their first glimpses of Muriel[Geena Davis]. She is certainly unique[her wardrobe will tell you that], but she has got to be one of the heartwarming women on the planet. Macon tries to dismiss her after he takes Edward back, but Muriel and Edward know differently. Muriel persists by calling him to check up on Edward, but also to check on Macon too. Finally, Edward is the cause of Macon breaking his leg, and Muriel is called on to train Edward. With her kind characteristics and gentle manner, she wins Edward over with ease [I can still hear her clucking, her trademark for training]. Now all she has to do is win over Macon, who is living with his sister among other family members. This takes time, but somehow Macon is visiting Muriel regularly at her apartment, and after a night together in her apartment, which is a love scene at its best [don't worry, it's not because of nudity or anything around that], they live together. Muriel also has a tiny, sickly son, Alexander, and Macon begins to bond with him as well. But Macon and Muriel's relationship is still awkward; Muriel can't feel totally safe with him, and Macon still has a longing for Sarah. Muriel is afraid she'll love him and lose him, and this kills her. She begs him, "Don't leave me Macon" when he travels. The picture gets very complicated, however, when Sarah decides that maybe she was wrong to leave Macon, and the debate reaches its peak. By the end of the movie, Macon is in Paris, and both women are there as well. Don't worry, there is no emotional showdown between the almost ex-wife and the girlfriend, but Macon is about ready to jump off his balcony when, finally, he reaches a conclusion.
As I said earlier, the mood for the film is dark and gloomy to fit Macon's mood. It's too bad it didn't work, but it's not enough to totally bring down the movie. Kathleen Turner shows the emotions needed to play Sarah, but as she isn't in the movie a whole lot, her character doesn't really have a whole lot of tiem to develop. I did not, however care for William Hurt in the movie. I don't know, I just could see other actors in this role doing it better. His character was unsure, yes, but he came as mostly unsympathetic to Muriel, and you can't really tell his true feelings. He was a bit too cold, I thought, which added to the gloom. But, I will still recommend this film with two words in mind: Geena Davis. If anything, see this film for her performance, which is so real and genuine. She plays Muriel to absolute perfection, as she portrays her emotional cords[becoming, in one scene, extremely frusterated with Macon because she can't understand gim], her sensitive side[holding Macon as he grieves over his son and then gently guiding him to bed], and her somewhat wacky side[belting, and I mean BELTING out a song while washing the dishes. Davis is actually not to be ashamed of her singing, she's better than most actors!] There is no doubt in my mind that she deserved her Oscar, it was well-won. Not only do I like Geena Davis as an actress, I really enjoyed watching the character Muriel, who was unusual, a rebel, but nevertheless determined and hopeful. Why can't the world be populated with more people like her?
on May 3, 1999
This movie is worth seeing, IF you have the patience to actually listen to the dialogue and watch the character development. If you don't, then don't bother, you won't get it. But I was thoroughly impressed with this adaptation of Anne Tyler's novel. William Hurt is impressive as Macon Leary, a writer who can not tolerate change or instability and is suddenly forced to deal with his son's death and his separation from his wife. Geena Davis, in her Oscar-winning performance, plays the odd woman who helps Macon to experience life rather than just let it pass him by. Fine supporting cast, enchanting musical score...all in all a great film.