A Skaditch Movie Review: The American
"I don't think the Lord is very interested in me right now, Father" - Jack/Edward, The American (2010)
Focus Pictures, Rated R, 103 minutes.
Directed By: Anton Corbijn
George Clooney - Jack/Edward
Thekla Reuten - Mathilde
Johan Leysen - Pavel
Paolo Bonacelli - Father Benedetto
Violante Placido - Clara
The American stars George Clooney in the staring role as, well, you guessed it, Jack/Edward, the American. The American is a man for hire in all things assassin or weapon related, who happens to have an affinity for butterflies, thus balancing the ugly with the beautiful. If your looking for a fast paced action movie with lots of gunfire, explosions and a rompus soundtrack you may want to save your money until tomorrow and go see Machete, I know I will. That is not say that The American is a bad film, quite the contrary, I found it to be a very good film.
The film starts in a cabin, on a European mountainside, with a man and a woman enjoying the morning afterglow of a night well spent. They embark on a morning stroll over the snow covered lake only to be the subjects of an assassination attempt. The man, Jack/Edward (we'll leave it at Jack from here on out), pulls out his gun and takes out the would be day spoiler, then proceeds to engage in damage control and hightail it out of dodge. I'll let you ponder the what damage control may entail.
Rome, and orders to retreat to a small Italian village, where Jack's to lay low and await further instructions. Jack enjoys a lot of butterfly reading and coffee when the next job comes in the form of tailor making a semi-automatic sniper rifle for a very attractive Mathilde, Thekla Reuten. During the time needed, awaiting and procuring proper gun parts, Jack begins Wednesday sessions with a very lovely, young prostitute named Clara, Violante Placido, that's seemingly blossoming into a familiar relationship. This new found tryst doesn't help with Jacks constant, yet subtle paranoia, that's justified every time someone tries to kill him or he finds a gun in his lovers purse.
An ending that involves a guessing game of who can Jack trust and an attempt to move on to a more peaceful, butterfly filled life.
Fade to black.
The American is a great throwback to the old days of where scenic panoramic shots, countrysides and century old villages become characters in the story. It's a homage to musical scores that involve simplicity of one or two instruments thus complimenting the story rather than diverting your attention away from it. The American has a sixties spaghetti western, European/Asian feel that takes it's time developing the story and allows you to get to know the main character while allowing looks, gestures, and moods to replace unnecessary dialog. The coolest thing is catching the blending of American and Italian cultures in the form of Jack ordering an Americana, to "Once Upon a Time in the West", an American film directed by Italian, Sergio Leone, playing on a cafe television to a song on the radio that I'll let you listen for. This wasn't George Clooney's best role, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was solid and not necessarily safe. The biggest problem I have with The American is the traditional Hollywood, mandated, ending that keeps the film from rising to its full potential. If theater #1 is showing Raiders of the Lost Ark and theater #10 is Showing Pearl Harbor, I would show The American in theater #3.