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The Originals: “Anthony Zimmer” is Lighter-Than-Light Hitchcock – Hopefully “The Tourist” is Better

The Originals: "Anthony Zimmer" is Lighter-Than-Light Hitchcock - Hopefully "The Tourist" is Better

It’s not very easy to find a copy of “Anthony Zimmer,” the 2005 French film that’s been remade by Hollywood as “The Tourist.” Yes, there was a Region 1 disc, apparently, but it’s not available through either Netflix or Blockbuster, and Amazon only sells it now through outside vendors. After the hubbub about the original “TRON” allegedly being withheld from consumers by a worried Disney, I couldn’t help wondering if Sony similarly had something to do with this film’s obscurity. The fact that “Anthony Zimmer” isn’t very good lends some weight to my suspicions — though I don’t actually believe there’s any truth to them.

Because I’m looking forward to and really want to like “The Tourist,” I really wanted to like its source. And I’m still looking forward to “The Tourist” with hopes that the all-star Oscar-winning screenwriting talent (none of whom worked together, of course) of Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who also directed, has done something more interesting with the premise. Written and directed by Jérôme Salle, “Anthony Zimmer” takes the wrong-man scenario and makes it as dull as possible as a vacationing, recently divorced catalog translator (Yvan Attal) is set-up to be mistaken for a master thief by the real (and titular) criminal’s ex-girlfriend (Sophie Marceau). It’s basically “North by Northwest” excluding all the best parts.

Call me sacrilegious, though, I prefer Marceau to Eva Marie Saint, and also to Angelina Jolie, who takes on the role in “The Tourist.” As much as I’m annoyed when bland and nerdy characters trust the random come on from an obviously out-of-his-league female, I do believe it would be impossible for any man to say “no” to Marceau in this part, even if you were skeptical or outright believed she was fingering you as a patsy and marking you for death. She seems that worth it. As for Attal, he’s acceptable in the dweeby role but he really has no personality beyond this capacity so it’s hard to root for him, either as a hero or an ultimate love interest for Marceau’s character. He doesn’t have any of the awkward charm necessary for such a role. Trying to imagine Johnny Depp in the same type of part also kept holding me back. Can Depp do so bland and nerdy? Tom Cruise and Sam Worthington were also previously attached, by the way. Perhaps the role is different in the remake?

The bad guys, which include a gangster who’d been robbed by Zimmer and a detective out to arrest the man, are also anything but enthralling. Hopefully they’re more memorable in the remake, but I’d even settle for some inserted action in place of unremarkable characters. This worked for me with the slightly similar “Knight and Day,” and Jolie’s “Salt” this year, and I have high expectations that there will be more stunts and chase scenes in “The Tourist” than can be found in its predecessor. It doesn’t have to end up as iconic as the Mount Rushmore or cornfield sequences in “North by Northwest,” but faithfully having Depp’s big scene be a barefoot sprint through traffic and Jolie’s being a hardly suspenseful vehicular escape from a parking garage before the gate shuts would be a huge disappointment to American audiences, myself included.

One more thing: something happens at the end of “Anthony Zimmer” that pretty much goes against most of the film’s narrative up until this last scene, almost as badly as “High Tension” (are the French even more okay with plot holes than we are?). I don’t want to spoil it, but even by my complaining so vaguely it’s possible you’ll guess correctly what I’m addressing. Anyway, you’re not likely to see the original, and I hope “The Tourist” doesn’t do what this film does, at least not in the same way. Yes, I have a lot to hope for with the remake, but occasionally they can be better than the original, right? Hitchcock proved as much. Of course, even Hitch’s worst is a hundred times better than “Anthony Zimmer.”

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