Friday, 17 September 2010

The Accidental Tourist, Lawrence Kasdan, USA 1988

The Accidental Tourist is one of those metaphorical films in which the main narrative of the film is a metaphor for the psychological state of the protagonist. In this case, it's William Hurt's Macon Leary inability to take risks and to enter into any situation which to him seems unpredictable or unsafe. Little surprise, then, that he's the author of business travel guides, published under the title The Accidental Tourist, which aim at making the traveller feel like he's never left home.

Of course this being metaphorical terrain, Macon is equally unable to commit himself to anything in his private life, either, let alone do anything that's out of the ordinary or that would involve a risk. With a behavioural pattern like this, any marriage is doomed to go stale, as does Macon's and his wife's Sarah, played by Kathleen Turner. When Macon gets hit on by the quirky Muriel - a dog trainer, no less - he's put off at first, then half-heartedly interested, but backs out when Muriel demands a commitment that goes beyond sharing the same bed.

So far, not half bad. However, Kasdan's film crumbles as, it must be said, many mainstream Hollywood films do, during the last twenty minutes when, pressed for a happy ending, he cooks up a number of twists (Muriel being miraculously on his flight to Paris; then Sarah also appears in Paris, etc. ), all begging credibility.

The Accidental Tourist is a subdued, well-paced, film which at certain points just makes you want to curl up under the sheets with a hot cup of chocolate, hoping that there'll be plenty of rain outside (as there is in the film. There's not one single scene in the film in which you see the sun).

I saw The Accidental Tourist over twenty years ago (My God - that long??!!) when it was first released and remember having fallen asleep somewhere along the line. This is is why I always thought I ought to give this film another shot. Anyhow, this time I didn't fall asleep, but no I know why I did the first time round.