Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #110 The American

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Movie #110 The American

(2010, US, d. Anton Corbijn)

Roger Ebert compared this film to Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai in almost every sentence of his review. I read the review before I saw the film but now I wonder if I would have drawn the same conclusions myself since the similarities were at times painfully obvious. I’m not saying this was a remake or anything, but in a strange world, this could be considered a sort of extended character homage. If you’ve seen Le Samourai, you know what I mean when I say don’t expect to be thrilled out of your seat. Just like that, The American is not at all what it advertises itself to be: it is not really a thriller as it is an exploration of the atmosphere a few thrilling events will take place in. George Clooney plays Jack or Edward (we never find out which one is real, if one of them even is), an assassin and arms maker on the run after a startling (or disturbing) opening scene where snipers shoot at him and his lover in the middle of a European tundra. He trusts no one, trusts nothing, and constantly conducts his lifestyle in his own methodical and professional style. Borrowing a thought from Ebert, like any samourai, The American’s weakness is love, which Clooney finds in a beautiful prostitute. The American doesn’t really on theatrical effects to convey its message. On the contrary, most regular movie-goers would find this film boring. I would disagree. The beauty and smart of the film lies in the fact that anything can change at any moment. And things do change. If you’re paying close attention to the film, you’ll feel the tension rise as a single character (the prostitute Clara) calls Clooney by a name that causes a distrust throghout the whole film. But Clooney never acts like anything is getting to him. He is as stoic as Alain Delon and just as professional, too. By the end of the film, you can’t help but wonder whose story we were watching. We’ve observed Clooney, but realize at the end that we know nothing about him. What brought him here? Who was he before this? These are questions that were never answered, but also for which the answers were never clued. We can only wonder. Though close to 2 hours in its running time, The American is one of 2010’s best films, but not at all for what it is advertised to be.

  1. […] all the people that came and went in their lives. It’s the type of film – sort of like The American – that doesn’t rely on expositional dialogue or explanatory lines to create tension. […]

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