The American

"Very 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

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.