The American continues George Clooney’s fine run of form with another interesting film that is both interesting and unexpected. Firstly it is very un-American and very European in execution. Not just the location of the film in rural Italy but long lingering shots and subtle dialogue form this slow paced movie. The several minute driving scene with George Clooney in profile as the opening credits play was one of my favourite examples of the type of establishing shots The American relishes in. The trailers, or at least the marketers, are selling The American as a thriller however and it’s easy to see why many audience members got a little frustrated and fidgety during the viewing I went to see.
Principally The American is not interested in exposition or action. It’s far more subtle than that with the choice use of dialogue. It demands the audience pays attention to get the most out of it and thus makes an excellent film to see in the cinema. The film deals with Jack, played by George Clooney, lying low after being chased by people who want to kill him. He is given a contract and The American analyses his character and relationships with the few people he befriends during his stay in rural Italy. There are very few action scenes and to describe Jack as on the run as is typical for thriller-speak would not be entirely accurate.
There are some aspects of the film which are a little too predictable. Jack’s relationship with a prostitute called Clara could be guessed from the first scene they shared, and so it came to pass. It’s quite interesting that I still loved the film, since this was one of the main themes of the story. There’s a lot more going on other than cinematography and George’s performance but I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. Perhaps another viewing is in order when it is released on DVD!
Despite some critical complains the film is wonderfully paced. There’s always some development going on and it is well-paced right up to the intriguing finale. The American is a tragedy and everyone save me (typical) left feeling a little depressed. The ending for all this was well-delivered and made complete sense for The American. Possibly one of my favourite films of the year although we shall see where exactly it places after I watch Black Swan, another film which is almost destined for a top five place at the end of this month and year.