Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The American


MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (L) Roger Ebert (4 stars) Fr. Dennis (4 stars)

IMDb listing -
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440728/
CNS/USCCB review -
http://www.usccb.org/movies/a/theamerican.shtml
Roger Ebert's review -
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100831/REVIEWS/100839999/1023

Recently released on DVD.

The American is one of a number of movies that I consider among the 2010's best but came out before I started this blog.

It is both a “quiet” and “dark” movie with some very nice panoramas of the Abruzzo region of Italy. Thus it is the type of movie that really would be best enjoyed on the big screen of a movie house. However, I could imagine it would work reasonably well on a nice HD TV with the lights dimmed and not much noise to help one focus on the screen.

There isn’t much dialogue in this movie as it is about Jack, a skilled, professional assassin played by George Clooney, who needless to say doesn’t talk much about his work. Indeed, The American is based on the novel by Martin Booth tellingly entitled “A Very Private Gentleman” and just about the only thing that a bystander could possibly surmise about Jack (by vestiges of an accent and _perhaps_ hints in his dress/demeanor) was that he was "probably an American.”

So it’s a very lonely life reduced to focusing on the mechanics of one's work, getting the parts together to assemble the “made to order” weapon for the particular job assigned, and then calibrating it to make sure it works. About the only people that Jack talks to in this movie are to his boss (who's simply a voice on the phone), his latest client's representative (played by Dutch actess Thekla Reuten) who does meet him personally, the town priest (played by Italian actor Paolo Bonacelli) who knows pretty much everybody in town and so notices him even as Jack otherwise successfully leads a life invisible to most others, and finally to a prostitute (played by Italian actress Violante Placido) who Jack pays not merely for the requisite sex but clearly and above all for intimacy. This is an understated story with a very little "u".

I would rate the adapted screenplay, direction (by Dutch director Anton Corbijn) and cinematography among the best of this year. I’d also give George Clooney a nod for a “Best Actor” nomination for his role.


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