Craig Armstrong's score for The Quiet American, based on the novel by Graham Greene, isn't the moody instrumental extravaganza you might be expecting. Granted, it is moody and extravagant, as in elegant and mysterious -- Armstrong has worked with Massive Attack after all -- but most tracks also feature Vietnamese vocals, with the exception of "Nothing in This World (Song for Phuong)," which is in English and plays during the end credits. The combination of subdued singing and minor-key electronics is exotic and disorienting, not the least because it isn't specifically evocative of the time period during which the film is set -- the early '50s. Fowler (Michael Caine) is a Saigon-based journalist with a young mistress, Phuong (Do Hai Yen), but he will always be British and he will always be married (his wife, who lives in the U.K., refuses to grant him a divorce). Then, the seemingly naïve American of the title, Pyle (Brendan Fraser), enters the scene and proceeds to shake up Fowler's world -- and the whole of Vietnam while he's at it. Pyle, as it turns out, isn't quite what he appears to be. But nothing is, really, in Phillip Noyce's acclaimed drama, which was released the same year as his equally well-received Rabbit-Proof Fence. The Quiet American ranks with The Year of Living Dangerously in the lush, heat-drenched, political intrigue sweepstakes, and Armstrong's stirring score is a fitting accompaniment.
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AllMusic Review by Kathleen C. Fennessy
|The Quiet American, film score|