December 11, 2017

The American – Movie Review

George Clooney with a gun. Hardly original, but his role in The American is unusual for him.

An assasin/gunsmith called Jack (George Clooney) ends up holed up in a remote Italian village after a job in Sweden ends violently.

There he encounters Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) a priest with a secret and a Clara (Violente Placido) a prostitute who is surprisingly educated and articulate for the back blocks of Italy.

Tortured by his past, Jack takes on one more job for his handler Pavel (Johan Leysen), to build a custom sniper rifle for Mathilde (Thekla Reuten) an assassin.

Dutch director, Anton Corbijn is more acclaimed for an impressive resume of music video direction, than feature films. His direction of Rowan Joffé’s screenplay adaptation of Martin Booth’s 1990 novel, A Very Private Gentleman, is a very definite change of pace.

The American, is a throw back to those movies from the 1970’s that tried to evoke sophistication by having a foreign location, a plot that unravels rather slowly, and a script so sparse the actors don’t have to rehearse it.

With characters who don’t say that much, (or do that much) it is difficult to build up much depth to the story. However the casting department have done their job well.

George Cloony (who also Produces) is excellent as the burnt out Jack.

Paolo Bonacelli is also excellent in the gem of a part as Father Benedetto who attempts to lead Jack to redemption. It would have been easy for Joffe to produce a caricature of a priest, all jolly on wine and pasta. But Bonacelli plays the part well and demonstrates that acting is not just about dialogue. Silence and expression are just as effective in developing a role.

Violante Placido does well with what she has, but the role of Clara is a little unbelievable. Clara comes across as a more of a white collar city prostitute, than a country lass in a small town.

The upside is it leaves the audience thinking in Clara, there is plot twist waiting to be unleashed at any moment.

The American drifts along at a slow but even pace. The inevitable end game between assassins plays out well and the ending is worthy of any European arthouse action movie.

Without the pulling power of Clooney, and Placido continually forgetting to turn up on the set with her costume, The American would have been struggling to hold its audiences interest for its 105 minute running time.

3 stars out of 5 from Griff