Monday, September 6, 2010

Movie Review: The American

The American is an exquisite gem of a film. There, I said it. A great number of reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes will disagree with me.

These reviewers say that the movie is too slow, too ponderous. I normally don't like films that are too slow either, but in this movie it works, thanks to the beautiful photography and elegant direction. The slow pacing allows the audience to soak in the atmosphere of the charming Italian countryside and to dwell in the mind of the main character, Jack (George Clooney), an assassin in hiding. I actually shared his feelings as he walked down the cobblestone streets, sat in the café sipping coffee, and driving on the winding roads in the mountains.

When Jack discovers that he is targetted for termination by the Swedes, he hides out in a small Italian village. While he's there, he does one last job for his employer: provide a customized rifle for a beautiful assassin named Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). The normally reserved and very private Jack strikes up a friendship with a local priest, and a torrid affair with a young prostitute.

However, trouble follows him to this town in the mountains of Abruzzo...

George Clooney gives another great performance. I re-watched Up in the Air a few nights ago on television and it reminded me of what a fabulous actor Clooney is. The American cements my opinion that George Clooney is absolutely one of the finest American actors of our time.

The feel of the film also reminded me of In Bruges, a story about two hitmen hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, after a job goes very awry. It was also rather atmospheric, giving the audience a good taste of the historic city of Bruges. Coincidentally, Thekla Reuten (the beautiful assassin) also starred in In Bruges.

I also have to put in a good word for Violante Placido, the prostitute Clara. She is very convincing and enticing. If I were Jack, I'd want to run away with her, too! (Please? Pretty please?)

Highly recommended. Definitely on my Top Ten list of the year.

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