By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated December 06, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

A beautiful melancholy hovers over the tragic players in this superbly controlled, passionate adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1955 novel about political and romantic treachery in 1950s Vietnam. Geopolitical history is enveloped in a love story, a murder mystery, and a spy story about something big — and the actors know it. Michael Caine gives a towering performance as a tired British journalist; Brendan Fraser matches him as a fresh-faced American on a mission, both men in love with the same young Vietnamese woman.