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The American Review

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The American Review

The American

In “The American,” George Clooney, as we are constantly reminded, is playing an American. He is also playing a professional assassin. For the filmmakers, there is some kind of equivalency between being an American and being an assassin. Apparently there are no professional assassins who are not American.
Based on the Martin Booth novel “A Very Private Gentleman” and directed by Anton Corbijn from a screenplay by Rowan Joffe, “The American” is about a very private gentleman indeed. Clooney’s Jack doesn’t make friends easily because they tend to die when they’re around him. An unknowing girlfriend, for example, gets it between the eyes in the opening minutes, propelling Jack into hiding in a mountainside Italian village in Abruzzo. “Don’t make friends,” his handler reminds him…read more [The Christian Science Monitor]

Despite its promotion, The American is not exactly what you would call an action movie. That doesn’t make it a bad movie by any means, nor is it the fault of the movie or the filmmakers, but there are going to be some severely disappointed audience members who are expecting an action movie with several car chases, gun fights, and brutal fights. Those all happen, but they make up roughly one-tenth of the movie, and are secondary to what the film is about. Even the poster above is designed to conjure images of action…read more [Digital Trends]

Thekla Reuten and George Clooney, The American
Thekla Reuten and George Clooney, The American

Why so many movies this year about aging secret agents? Probably to accommodate all the aging lead actors. George Clooney gets his shot in this austere thriller, and though he explores a marginally wider range of emotions than Sylvester Stallone does in The Expendables — they include glowering, mental anguish, and more glowering — he definitely isn’t having as much fun as Bruce Willis and company do in the upcoming Red.
On the plus side for both Clooney and his viewers, he gets to engage his angst in the picturesque setting of Abruzzo, Italy. And he doesn’t have to deal with the pseudo-profundities of the film’s source, Martin Booth’s novel A Very Private Gentleman. Had director Anton Corbijn and screenwriter Rowan Joffe opted to include the book’s first-person fulminations as a voiceover narrative, this could have been as deadly as Rob Reiner’s Flipped…read more[The Boston Phoenix]

The film is directed by long-time photographer Anton Cobijn, who last made the excellent Joy Division drama “Control.” And like that film, “The American” is both meticulous about its compositions, and uninterested in providing typical genre sensations.
So if you’re looking for a smart thriller that still delivers slam-bang set pieces — well, look somewhere else (possibly to “The Town,” the Ben Affleck bank-robbery picture opening later this month)…read more [nj.com]

Violante Placido (left) and George Clooney (right) star in director Anton Corbijn’s suspense thriller The American
Violante Placido (left) and George Clooney (right) star in director Anton Corbijn’s suspense thriller The American

The basic plot isn’t anything you haven’t seen before: Clooney plays an American expat named Jack, a professional assassin who finds himself on the wrong end of a job — that is, he has become the hunted instead of the hunter. Who’s after him in this European-set drama is entirely unclear, both to Jack and to audiences, but this isn’t a film that bothers too much with such troublesome things as character-defining exposition. (Details, details.)
Jack, who is haunted in addition to being hunted, wants out of the business, but before his mysterious handler will let that happen, he’s got one last job for him. The way Jack keeps looking over his shoulder, it’s clear he realizes it could be one job too many, but he’s uncomfortably low on options. So he takes the job, and he holes up in a picturesque Italian mountain town while preparing for it…[nola.com]

“The American” thrills to the sound and rhythm of cool professionalism, such as the technical exchanges between Jack and Mathilde on the details of her weapon, and when it veers from this attitude to render Jack closer to a real person, it fails to convince, mainly because it feels like a violation of Jack’s essence. Thus, a terrific third-act twist that turns Mathilde’s fate on its head and appears to send the film toward a powerful payoff never occurs, since Jack is himself fated for a far less interesting end…[Variety]

George Clooney stars in the title role of director Anton Corbijn's  suspense thriller The America
George Clooney stars in the title role of director Anton Corbijn’s  suspense thriller The America

George Clooney plays Jack, an assassin who knocks off his girlfriend and departs for parts unknown after his Icelandic hideout is attacked by revenge-seeking Swedes. Arriving in the Italian countryside at the behest of his boss Pavel (Johan Leysen), he strikes up an unexpected friendship with a local priest (Paolo Bonacetti) before being recruited for a new job: build a weapon for another assassin named Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). He agrees to deliver the weapon, but soon realizes that even its considerable payday may not be enough to help him escape his shadowy past, especially after he meets a young prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido) whose companionship makes him begin to long for a more normal life…read more [Cinematical]

The movie exhibits a fastidious, nearly self-parodic sense of visual control. This is to be expected from the Dutch director Anton Corbijn, a longtime photographer who made his feature film debut with “Control,” the black-and-white musical biopic about Joy Division’s short-lived frontman, Ian Curtis. “The American” is in color, but its mood is gray. The protagonist makes a good, if justifiably paranoid, living by molding custom guns for assassins. Much of the picture focuses on Clooney in fabulous isolation, doing push-ups in his barely furnished flat, or assembling his latest instrument of killing in marvelous midday light (who works with greasy metal parts while wearing a crisp white linen shirt? George Clooney does!), or nursing a cup of coffee in some lonely cafe…read more [Sun Sentinel]

George Clooney (right) star in director Anton Corbijn's new suspense thriller The American
George Clooney (right) star in director Anton Corbijn’s new suspense thriller The American

The screenplay, written by Rowan Joffe (“28 Weeks Later…”) and based on the novel “A Very Private Gentleman” by Martin Booth, refreshingly avoids an excess of exposition. Tantalizing but spare dialogue allows the audience a window into Jack’s world, but only barely; just as one would expect if they were to meet such a man. Clooney, for his part, answers Joffe’s challenge with a master class in subtlety. Forsaking his trademark grin and at the same time avoiding the temptation to oversell the pathos, he finds the perfect middle-ground of a man who lost his humanity so long ago that he no longer remembers it. It is only his occasional thousand mile stare that suggests that something may be reawakening in him…read more [Big Picture Big Sound]

The American Movie Poster The American Poster
The American Movie Posters

Let’s say this upfront: The American is not an audience movie in the generally recognized sense of the term.
It is not an action movie.
It is not a thriller in any conventional sense.
Forget about the TV commercials and theatrical trailers that make it look like George Clooney is playing some Jason Bourne-like character, mowing down every bad guy who gets in his way.
It’s not that movie. Instead, it’s an art film. Anyone who goes in expecting it to be in any way a typical Hollywood product will be sorely disappointed…read more [The Huffington Post]

George Clooney stars as Jack in The American (2010). Photo by Giles Keyte Violante Placido stars as Clara and George Clooney stars as Jack in The American (2010). Photo by Giles Keyte Violante Placido stars as Clara and George Clooney stars as Jack in The American (2010). Photo by Giles Keyte
The American Movie Photo Gallery

The American  info

Running time: 105 minutes
Rated: R
Cast: George Clooney (Jack/Edward), Violante Placido (Clara), Thekla Reuten (Mathilde), Paolo Bonacelli (Father Benedetto), Johan Leysen (Pavel)
Director: Anton Corbijn
Official Movie Web Site: http://focusfeatures.com/film/the_american

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