The American

"Good"

The American Review


Like its central character, this film is almost painstakingly meticulous in the way it sets up each scene. And while it feels like nothing much is happening, there's a lot going on under the surface, and a real sense of growing suspense.

No one really knows Jack (Clooney). Or maybe his name is Edward. Some call him Butterfly, and he's clearly a ruthlessly efficient man who leaves little to chance. An expert in customised guns and ammunition, he's hiding in an Italian village from some nasty Swedes. There he's making a rifle for Mathilde (Reuten) while befriending a priest (Bonacelli) and starting a tentative relationship with local prostitute Carla (Placido). But he doesn't trust anyone, and starts to worry whether he'll survive this job.

Corbijn has a remarkable eye, so the movie looks gorgeous, with painterly cinematography by Martin Ruhe and direction that captures scenes with encompassing anglesthat vividly echo Jack's consuming paranoia. The more we learn about him, the more we see how these events unsettle his ordered life: he's on the run, forced to work too quickly and unsure who's actually out to get him. He knows he shouldn't make friends, but craves human contact.

Amid the scripts occasional red herrings, the sense of place and pace feel thoroughly authentic. Clooney gets the chance to be more reticent than usual, and he pulls it off perfectly. His interaction with both women is a bundle of suggestion, as all three clearly bring hopes and secret agendas into relationships. Placido is especially engaging as we watch her warm to Jack's prickly personality; Reuten's character is both sketchier and more unpredictable.

If there's any complaint it's with the tempo, as the narrative moves with extreme deliberation, never breaking loose beyond a couple of quick-action moments. There are also a couple of clunky plot points that feel somewhat contrived, as well as a generally open-handed structure that leaves us feeling that something is missing from this story. Maybe that's a sense of history, as no one here seems to have one. But then, as the priest tells Jack, "You are American; you think you can escape history."



The American

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st September 2010

Box Office USA: $35.6M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 138 Rotten: 72

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Jill Green, , Ann Wingate


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Inside Out Movie Review

Inside Out Movie Review

Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...

Southpaw Movie Review

Southpaw Movie Review

Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...

Eden Movie Review

Eden Movie Review

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...

The Gallows Movie Review

The Gallows Movie Review

Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...

Advertisement
Self/Less Movie Review

Self/Less Movie Review

An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...

Ant-Man Movie Review

Ant-Man Movie Review

The increasingly stale Marvel formula gets a blast of fresh air in this rollocking adventure...

Love & Mercy Movie Review

Love & Mercy Movie Review

An unusually inventive approach brings this story to life, as the filmmakers get into the...

Ted 2 Movie Review

Ted 2 Movie Review

Fans of the surprise 2012 hit Ted will find plenty to love in this sequel,...

Advertisement