THE AMERICAN, 2010
Alone among assassins, Jack is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Larry that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell.
The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde, is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto and pursues romance with local woman Clara. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.
Release Date: 1 September 2010
Washrooms are always the best place to go after watching a movie. Besides the obvious (drinking the oversized concession drink and holding it in until the movie is over is #1) it's where most people go afterwards and while you're peeing (or whatever the girls do next door) you can ask your stallmates their opinions of the film. After all you just spent two quiet, intimate hours in the dark with them, so I find it suitable asking them questions while they are releasing their bodily functions. It's just something I always do because I'm fascinated by what people are thinking. (think about it - I am the one who created feedback film festival and if I could I would stand up in front of all the theaters and moderate and discuss with the crowd. But I'm not allowed to do that - yet!) All the best responses are always right after the screening before anyone can start overthinking and just speak with their emotions.
So as I went to the washroom after The American screening, I asked four dudes in their late teens/early 20s who were obvious friends what they thought of the movie they just watched. Three of them thought it sucked bad and wanted their money back while the other guy thought it was okay for what it was. I asked the three haters why they didn't like it and they all responded in their own way that the movie was boring and it had no point to it. The other guy then told them that this was a typical foreign film about character development which usually ends in tragedy.
"It was what it was" he said. "The only difference is that Clooney was playing the role that a guy none of us know plays."
I asked him what he meant by that.
"You know. These loner movies from Italy, Germany or whatever, are played by actors who may be popular in their country but aren't big movie stars like Clooney. So we're all now watching the movie from a different point of view." he responded while washing his hands and looking himself in the mirror while he talked. (something many of us do if a mirror is close by and we're curious if what we're saying makes any sense to us!)
"The movie sucked big time." one of his friends said angrily as he left the washroom.
The kid was right. The American is a foreign film that starred a movie star. And because it starred a movie star it got a worldwide North American release. So I think many of that core 18-25 audience that mostly goes to the movies are going to be disappointed because this wasn't the movie they were expecting. If you watch the film's promotional trailer (a link for it above on this page), you'll find the most manipulative trailer I've come across in a long time. The producers promotion trick for North America is to show us a brooding George Clooney who will get himself some attractive girls in his bedroom while also shooting up some bad guys while he's hanging out in Italy. And this is not that movie at all.
Okay, maybe it is. Clooney does bed some attractive girls and he does kill people, but not in the ways that you think he will. So the ad isn't a lie, it's just shown from a point of view you are least expecting.
The American is not for everyone. But it's definitely a film to take a look at if you're in that introspective mood. But this isn't a memorable film at all as you'll get what you think you'll get in the end. A hit man losing his nerve and wanting out is one of the most played-out story lines in film history. But as with all over used story lines, a good film can move past the cliché with its creativity and cinematic integrity; Anton Corbijn's second film The American, does just that.
What makes it stand out is Clooney's performance. He's definitely the master at playing the confident guy on the surface who has his vulnerabilities and insecurities. And that's something almost every other actor in the world can't pull off.
It's hard for someone playing two polarizing moods at the same time in subtext. In fact it's almost impossible. But I guess it's what makes Clooney Clooney.