Film & TV

The American

Rating: MA 15+

Running Time: 103 minutes

Release Date: 11 Nov 2010

The American  by Dutch director Anton Corbijn, is  an adaptation of a 1990 thriller novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth.  Jack (George Clooney) an assassin who after being attacked by a sniper in Sweden flees to Italy , Abruzzo, in which he declares it to be his last assignment to his contact Pavel (Johan Leysen). There he befriends local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli).  The Father sensing his dark past encourages him to seek absolution but Jack now posing as photographer, Edward, meets his next assignment Mathilde (Thekla Rueten) who requests a custom built assassin rifle with silencer. While residing in Italy he embarks on an affair with local prostitute Clara (Violante Placido) and their relationship blossoms beyond paid for sex.  However beset with paranoia, Edward (aka Jack) is not sure who he can really trust, as the hunter becomes the hunted.

The adapted screenplay by Rowan Joffe is a bit too slow and measured leaving the audience to wonder where it is all going rather than the desired effect of being suspenseful which is what thrillers intend to achieve. It is one of those films in which you need to watch intently as you may miss crucial elements in the plot,   Unfortunately an emotional attachment to Clooney’s character is not well developed so ultimately we don’t care about his fate which is crucial in holding the audience’s attention and creating that suspense.  This film has some good elements with Clooney for a start, but it almost seems to rely on that factor.  It’s trying to be too clever but the one note pace lets it down and by the time you decide you care enough to try and connect the dots, the film is over .  Not even sympathising with Clooney’s au natural grey look and his strict diet and exercise regime enhanced abs will help his cause except for the diehard fans.  Violante Placido steals the screen with her bodily wares and looks.  Though there is little dialogue the transformation of Edward and Clara’s  relationship underpins the film giving it an introspective feel.

Cinematographer Martin Ruhe landscape shots are well done but that cant save the film from flatlining throughout.  The story is interesting but suffers from credibility.  One would think if Clooney was suspicious after his initial flee from death why would he take anymore chances.  Also it seems ludicrous that he would be comissioned to make a gun when there are an array of high powered weapons that can be purchased untraceable on the black market.  for It just doesn’t ring true and the slow pace ensures that you have enough time to question the plot holes. 

3/5 stars

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