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
The publicity from The American suggests it is an action and adventure film, when it is in fact a melancholic and deep drama.I liked The American very much, but I perfectly understand why its slow rhythm and calm narrative would make it inaccessible to those people who expect to see shootouts and explosions.And that is not a problem from the film or from the people, but from the distributors, who did not know how to sell this movie.
The American is developed parsimoniously, dividing its time in the methodic way in which the main character constructs a rifle; the flourishing romance among two people who are hungry of affection; and the occasional moments of suspense.Oh, and we also have conversations between the main character and a priest, which contribute to reveal the psychology from the first one mentioned.And all that is framed by the perfect Italian locations, which are full of atmosphere and detail, but without becoming into the idealized brochures from advertising agencies we have seen in movies which were also set in that country (such as Letters to Juliet and Under the Tuscan Sun).I would have said that is an unusual style for director Anton Corbjin, who made many video-clips of Metallica, U2 and Depeche Mode...if he had not already shown his firm hand and measured vision in the excellent film Control.
In order to make a relaxed narrative like the one from The American to work, we need a good actor in the leading role, so that we can perceive the thoughts from the main character in an almost intuitive way.Fortunately, George Clooney is one of those actors, and his brilliant performance in The American is one of the best attributes from this movie.The rest of the cast also made a good work, highlighting Violante Placido, Johan Leysen and Thekla Reuten.
The brief sequences from The American which could be considered as "action" look almost anti-climatic...like an interruption in the paused routine from the main character.And this is one of the few movies in which the romance is not used as a forced ornament, but as an integral part from the screenplay.The only negative element from The American is that there are a few scenes which feel out of context.However, that minor fail did not avoid me from having a fascinating time with The American, which I very enthusiastically recommend with the warning that you do not have to expect shootouts and explosions.
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