The Honorary Consul represents a weak attempt to adapt Graham Greene’s 1973 novel for the screen. Strong talents on both sides of the camera haven’t managed to breathe life into this intricate tale of emotional and political betrayal and result is a steady dose of tedium.
Greene’s central character was one Eduardo Plarr, a half-Paraguayan, half-British doctor in provincial Argentina who quietly assists some revolutionaries in their attempt to kidnap the American ambassador and equally casually impregnates the very young native wife of the besotted honorary consul from Britain, Charley Fortnum. The rebels blunderingly capture Fortnum instead of the intended Yank, but detain and threaten to execute him anyway unless some of their comrades are released from prison.
First handicap is the casting of Richard Gere as the dispirited Englishman. Actor’s accent only manages to stay on course when his lines consist of five words or less. Acting honors easily fall to Michael Caine as the small-time, dipsomaniacal diplomat. Character in the book was in his 60s, but Caine proves an ideal choice. Bob Hoskins registers strongly as a heartless but engaging South American police chief.
Using Mexican locales, director John Mackenzie and lenser Phil Meheux have evoked a good sense of place, but end result is on the dull side.