Review: The American

Director: Anton Corbijn
Release: September 1 2010
George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Violante Placido

I just watched this film and am quite astonished, once again, at critics and regular movie viewers alike.

I was told by several people, or people who heard from other people, that this film was garbage. The words “boring” and “long” were thrown around a lot. I’m old enough to know not to really trust such random thoughts, but regardless, I missed this film when it was in theaters.

Lucky for me, then, that I took a chance and bought it before the year end so I can officially call it one of the best films I’ve seen in 2010. No, really.

The premise is simple. George Clooney plays an assassin or spy or some combination of the two. It’s never made quite clear (and I love that) but it is obvious that he’s a veteran of such a career and has paid for it in terms of loneliness and loss of loved ones. Shit goes wrong and George is on the run and is told to hide out in a small Italian town and complete one last job, which is assembling a weapon for a mysterious buyer, but his past is also following him.

It’s not an entirely new concept, but the scenes range from showing the character as a man willing to do anything to complete a task to a lonely fragile man looking for some normalcy and human contact. It’s the two things he struggles with and once again seem to be getting him into trouble.

He meets Clara, a prostitute (played by the absolutely stunning Violante Placido) while seeking said contact and fights with himself over hiding secrets and not being able to trust anybody.

Really, I’m not going to sum up the entire film scene for scene, so I’ll stop there.

I’ll just say that I was absolutely enthralled for the two hours it lasted and cannot understand how under any circumstances a person could find it “boring”.

I’ll not argue against the fact that it’s a “slow burn” and even the action scenes are played out with this really strange sense of…relaxed urgency. I really don’t know how else to describe them, but upon thinking about it, that’s really quite remarkable and just does even more to grip me.

I guess if you expect a spy movie along the lines of the Bourne films or James Bond you’re really going to be letdown, so perhaps the was the problem for some people, but man oh man, it hurts to think about what some people are missing by passing this one up.

If you enjoy beautiful, well put together films there really is no reason to not give this a shot, even if you’re not a fan of “slow” character/story progression. Pretty much every scene here truly does seem so well edited and flows so nicely that it felt so much shorter than it actually was, which is again, in my experience, a very good sign of a well crafted film.

It just hit every right note for me.

Arbitrary number rating that really doesn’t mean fuck all: 9/10

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