The American (2010)

It’s probably nostalgia to say that Hollywood used to make ten of these films a week but there is a definate seventies feel to Anton Corbijn’s (Control) second film. The exquisite framing, soft light, sparse screenplay and muddied morality are a throwback to Hollywood’s golden age.

Clooney plays Jack, a professional hitman being hunted by his own kind. He is sent to a postcard of an Italian village to lie low until the storm passes. Here he befriends a priest and a whore who in their own ways help Jack with his soul searching.

It would be impossible to make an “Assassin trying to leave” film withoout cliche but none of them feel unnatural, even the beautiful prostitute with a heart of gold (a reccuring phenomenon that will never die) sits happily here, helping along an admirably simple story.

Both Clara (the prostitute and Father Benedetto see through Jack’s cover as a photographer, seeing the lie but letting it go until Jack is ready (forced) to reveal his true self.

Clooney must pick his roles carefully or it could be just that his real life character which seems affable and charming is only a short twist away from a host of roles. He never seems to bring any baggage with him which is a skill in itself. It’s difficult to remember a truly bad film (Ocean’s 13 and 14 to contradict that) he’s been involved with. Here he broods, drinks coffe and speaks broken Italian as well as anyone, he handles Rowan Joffe’s excellent screenplay superbly. Ignoring the rare dialogue, acting with furtive glances and icy stares, his body language easily confidant, poised and coiled for either a fight and a flight.

It’s refreshing to find a film this quiet, the music swells every so often but for the most part, shoe’s creak and clothe’s rustle as we hear the world as Jack does, listening for threats and making instant decisions based on his honed senses.

Like the butterflies tatooed on Jack’s body this is a beautiful film that flies by too fast.

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2 comments

  1. I do fancy seeing this, but someone told me the ending and I refuse to see it until I forget.

    PS Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a bad Clooney movie. Other than that and the ones you mentioned, it’s been smooth sailing. And Batman and Robin….

    Smooooth sailing.

  2. …and The Peacemaker…..and Leatherheads…….and The Good German……..and Michael fucking Clayton. Still, it’s made up for with O Brother, Up in the Air, Ocean’s Eleven, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Burn After Reading, Fantastic Mr.Fox and Solaris. That’s hitting well over .500. Anyone else got that average?

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