Alone among assassins, Jack is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Pavel that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell. The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde, is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto and pursues romance with local woman Clara. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.Written by
When Jack (George Clooney) is sitting in the cafe, the song "Tu vuò fà l'Americano" by Renato Carosone is playing on the radio in the background. See more »
When Jack receives the Swedish newspaper clipping the text following the headline has several grammatical and punctuation errors indicative of it being written by someone whose native language is English. One of several examples from the article is that in Swedish homicide investigation is a single word - "mordutredning" - not two ("mord utredning"). See more »
You know, I thought I maybe drive into town. You want something?
See more »
The credits at the end are in order of appearance. However, the 3 hookers are listed in the order: Hooker #2, Hooker #3 and Hooker #1, which logically doesn't make sense. See more »
Nel Giardino Dell'Amore
Written by José Feliciano and Hilda Feliciano
Performed by Patty Pravo
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (Italy) s.p.a.
by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing See more »
It's slow, but on purpose, and it has something approaching lyricism
The American (2010)
Like many George Clooney movies, this one is cinematically superb. You can pick the obvious, like his "Good Night and Good Luck" which he directed and had filmed in gorgeous black and white, or "Solaris" for director Soderbergh's lyrical if romanticized sensibility. Or "Syriana," "O Brother," "Three Kings," and "The Thin Red Line" all in the last fifteen years, all filmed with love, and generally with good effect.
What this means is he is more than an actor, he's an influence behind the scenes. And he's good for the movies (the industry), even if sometimes he pushes his movies into a slickness that is dulling. And that might be the flaw in "The American," the reason why this doesn't quite rise to the poetry it intends. There are aspects that make it one of those films that will view really well fifty years from now. In fact, a lot of it is wordless and so it will be culturally timeless. But it also lacks that daring taut emptiness or plain beautiful long pace of its better intentions. That is, it doesn't go far enough.
"The American" is not about much, in a way. There is the LeCarre sense of a specialized spy alone in a dangerous world, and it's the aloneness that leads to lots of inner thoughts, an attempt to figure out what really matters in his life. And that's why it works in a bucolic way. The ostensible plot is about one final professional job the man has to do, making a highly specialized gun. There are enough scenes of him working on it on a kitchen table, almost caressing the machinery of it, high in a mountain village in Italy, that we can appreciate it on a simple level of craft.
There are women (always too beautiful for their own good) and there are evil men on his tail (ruthless and never quite as clever as Clooney). In other words, there are the usual elements of this kind of world. But most of the time the movie takes its hold on a more direct, sensory level. Some people will find that simply boring. Not enough "happens." But if you let it envelop you, and if you aren't in a hurry, and if you can see it on a larger screen (to maximize those sensory effects), it might really impress you.
Finally, it has to be admitted that the plot is a bit of a borrowing from "Day of the Jackal." Some of the acting is mediocre, too, but not Clooney, and not his one main sexual interest, played by Violante Placido, though she doesn't have a big role. The countryside is so beautiful you might be satisfied just with that, actually. Sit back and watch.
This was my second time around and I didn't realize it and I almost didn't keep going because the simple plot (with lots of peripheral characters) is important, and I remembered a couple of the big twists. But the movie has such a beautiful, flowing narrative pace and visual fluidity I ended up watching it again, every minute. And I probably liked it more this time, not worried about the events as much as how they were shown.
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