A Measure of Comfort

“Well, Tosca isn’t for everyone.”
One opera-goer to another
Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace
Daniel Craig, Judi Dench
Directed by Marc Forster

Bond is back! First we had the “franchise reboot” movie, Casino Royale, and now we have Quantum of Solace.

Three reasons to get this DVD:

Bond as played by Daniel Craig.
M as portrayed by Dame Judi Dench

Yes, that’s right, Tosca, the opera. About 40 minutes into this globe-trotting actioner, the movie takes us to Bregenz and a production of Tosca. I was planning to write, “If this isn’t an actual staging of Tosca, it should be.” And it is, the Himmelmann version from 2007, as I found out from mostlyopera,blogpot.com. (Any errors in the preceding sentences are mine, not the website’s). The opera sequence is the best one in the movie. The staging, the music, the strategic use of silence, Bond’s tuxedoed violence—it’s all wonderful. Tosca also provides a signpost for the journey Camille, this movie’s Bond Girl, must take.

The second best thing in the movie is one scene, where one of the villains, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalic) gets off a private jet, into a waiting limousine, and gives the two men who were on the plane with him a look. Wait, I’m sorry, I’m not doing it justice. It’s A Look.

The third best thing in the movie is a tie; every scene with M; and a woman named Corinne whispering, “Thank you,” to Bond.

The. . . well, you can’t call it a plot, exactly. . the framework on which the scenes are hung is just sturdy enough to hold things together until the next car chase/horse race/boat chase/opera/fistfight/shooting/plane chase/plane crash/party/murder/ action adventure sequence. I’m not saying the writing isn’t smart—it is—it’s just that most of us watch a Bond movie to see men in tuxedos do spin kicks and head butts, and the creators of this movie know that.

Some things are nonsensical. A luxury hotel that bursts into flames if a guest basically sneezes too hard? Please, that’s just bad design, people. The evil pocket dictator-wannabe who ties up women for his sexual gratification . . . (yawn). These are minor quibbles that don’t annoy long enough to derail your enjoyment of the movie.

There is a curious purity in Bond’s relationship with Camille. Although there is a hint, near the end of the movie, that they may have had sex, on screen they barely kiss. Bond does get a girl because, dude, he’s Bond, but it isn’t the Bond Girl. When Camille explains to Bond that by “rescuing” her during the speedboat chase he in fact robbed her of vengeance against the man who raped her mother and killed her family, Bond pauses, and says, simply, “I apologize.” The relationship between these two is almost mentor and apprentice.

Throughout the movie, Bond has been haunted by the memory of Vesper, the woman he loved who betrayed him, and who killed herself in order to keep from betraying him completely. At the end, the very end, Bond confronts the man who manipulated Vesper. He finds a way to forgive her and free himself from her ghost. He is not yet completely free, and we see, in this Bond universe, how the loss of Vesper shaped Bond the man, but we believe that he has gained, at least for a moment, a quantum of solace.

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