Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The American Retirement Plan In Italy To Die For

The American

I have noticed a fair bit of George Clooney backlash on the internet over the past year. I am not sure what the root of it is as Clooney has developed into a really good actor within the last ten years. Instead of opting for the easy paycheck, George Clooney has been rather consistent in selecting works that are both challenging and layered. A perfect example of this can be found in his work in Anton Corbijn’s The American.

In the film George Clooney plays Jack, an American assassin who specializes in weapons making. After his latest assignment goes horribly wrong, Jack informs his liaison, Pavel (Johan Leysen), that he plans to retire after his next mission. Jack’s final assignment takes him to the Italian countryside where he is commissioned to build a light sniper rifle for a client, Mathilde (Thelka Reuten). While in Italy, Jack befriends a local priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and begins a romance with a local prostitute, Clara (Violante Placido). Jack also discovers that someone has placed a bounty on his head. As Jack tries to figure out who is out to get him, he is forced to consider the possibility that it could be an old enemy or one of his new acquaintances. 

The American unfolds at a slow measured pace for which even the big action moments are treated with soft subtle tone. While the pacing will annoy some viewers, The American is a film that rewards viewers for their patience. Director Anton Corbijn shows how easily the paranoia can build in Jack’s line of work. This leads to several tense moments where even the simplest conversations, such as the ones Jack has with Clara, take on a whole other meaning for Jack. Corbijn’s film implies that, even in retirement, Jack will never truly be at rest.

George Clooney does a terrific job of conveying Jack’s weariness. After years of killing and living a solitary life, Jack is no longer as sharp as he once was. The passion for companionship has taking over his passion for the kill. Jack’s greatest weakness is his love of women. Despite the events that occurred with his last relationship, Jack still falls into the same trappings with Clara.

While engaging, the Jack and Clara romantic arc is rather predictable. In fact, this is the biggest flaw with The American on the whole. The film has a level of predictability that is hard to ignore. Still, like the stylish films of the seventies which serve as Anton Corbijn’s inspiration, even though the ride maybe familiar you still enjoy taking it nonetheless. The American is one of the better film to hit theatres this year.


  1. Nice notes about Clooney, especially his willingness to expand and take on different roles - a lesson some of his contemporaries could some advice about. I didn't go through the entire article as I still have not seen this movie but wanted send you a shout out just the same. I'll return when I got this one in the cross-hairs.

  2. @Rorydean - Thanks for stopping by the site. I think too many of his contemporaries go for the big paycheck instead of taking on truly challenging roles. Would love to hear your thoughts on the film once you get a chance to see it.

  3. Paranoia is a key word in regards to 'The American'. In his line of duty, the George Clooney is forced to continuously look behind his back. I loved the scene at the café.

    Have you seen the director's first film, 'Control'?

  4. @edgar - I have not seen Control but heard only good things about it. I will have to place the film on my growing "to see" list.


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