Sunday, September 5, 2010

A movie review: The American (2010)

The American (2010)

Director - Anton Corbijn
103 min; R
George Clooney - Jack/Edward
Thekla Reuten - Mathilde
Violante Placido - Clara
Paolo Bonacelli - Father Benedetto

George Clooney was a very good choice to play the lead character in The American. The often used term Cool, Calm, and Collected comes to mind when one sees him on screen moving through the shots in a well timed manner. In this film he is also able to convey a solitary individual, alone with his past, but at a cross roads of his life. The American in this film could have been a Brazilian, or a German, whatever, but it works well to use the backdrop of small, time-standing-still Italian cliff side villages and an American, in culture, for all that it entails.

The film is beautifully shot in drawn out scenes of Jack, a man who obviously knows how to kill and handle weapons, or Edward, a man who knows he should not confide in anyone for his own sake, yet can't help finding himself in the arms of a woman. Jack or Edward, he is both and he is neither, a man without a real life or clear past. He is simply a man who is at the end of a career and is looking to make a change.

In what is to be his last job, the American is tasked with hiding out in a small Italian town while he builds and pieces together a weapon for Mathilde, the woman who will carry out the task. Who is commissioning the mission, what the mission is, and why is never discussed, it simply is what these people do, and we watch as the entire scenario unfolds.

A local prostitute, Clara, begins to mean more than just sex, and though he knows that, as in the past, he should avoid such temptations he simply cannot help himself. He doesn't really want to be the man he has become.

The film opens and closes with two beautiful scenes that encapsulate this man's life of solitude. I loved the way this film was shot, but I give fair warning here that this film will not appeal to many people who are expecting or demand a more action packed thriller. This movie is deliberate in set up and nuance, not in fighting and chase scenes, of which there is little. I did not find it too much at any point to watch the story unfold, but I did find a few too many plot holes for my liking, mainly in undeveloped characters. The role of Father Benedetto in particular bothered me. The American begins a casual friendship with the priest while he carries out his mission, and I kept expecting this story line to take us somewhere....more, but it falls flat and I feel this was a missed opportunity. It did not bother me so much that the overall theme of the film has been done before, nor that parts of it felt very much expected. It is really the indescribable effect of the way this film is shot that makes it a good viewing, and I am fairly certain that Clooney had a lot to do with keeping us interested.

**** out of 5

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