The Accidental Tourist is a slow, sonorous and largely satisfying adaptation of Anne Tyler’s bestseller of one man’s intensely self-contained passage from a state of grief to one of newfound love.
William Hurt is an uptight, travel book writer from the slightly eccentric, financially comfortable Leary family of unmarried middle-aged siblings in this essentially simple narrative story awash in warmth and wisdom about the emotional human animal.
Weighty tone is set from the opening scene where Kathleen Turner, having just made tea for Hurt upon his return from a travel-writing excursion, calmly informs him she’s moving out. Then, in a series of strange, unpredictable and out-of-character encounters with his unruly dog’s trainer (Geena Davis), Hurt finds himself in another, vastly different, relationship. Davis is unabashedly forward, poor, openly vulnerable, a flamboyant dresser and most importantly, has a sickly son (Robert Gorman) who fills the parental void in Hurt’s life.
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That Hurt remains expressionless and speaks in a monotone, except at the very end, puts a damper on the hopefulness of his changing situation. Davis is the constant, upbeat force in the proceedings. Turner is equally compelling and sympathetic throughout.
1988: Best Supp. Actress (Geena Davis).
Nominations: Best Picture, Score, Adapted Screenplay