Friday, 21 January 2011

The American

Although some might argue the notion of a career criminal taking on that “one last job” is a cliché, this is not your run-of-the-mill Hollywood story. The trailer I saw for this (involving a high-octane montage of George Clooney working out and pulling guns etc) is rather misleading. Yes, he does work out and pull guns but this film is not all about the action. It’s been described as an examination of existential angst. Call me shallow but I’d say it’s just a damn good thriller.

Clooney plays Jack, the American of the title and a hitman lying low in the small town of Castel del Monte, a sumptuous location in Italy’s San Grasso mountain range. Acutely aware that he is, as Lethal Weapon’s Roger Murtagh might have put it more bluntly, “getting too old for this shit” he takes on a final job. As the laconic anti-hero attempts to keep his head down in this friendly little town, the dialogue is sparse. This brings gravitas to even the most mundane of exchanges. I agree with recent comments that it has all the marks of a western. Switch the location, change a few logistics and it’s not hard to imagine Clint as the lead. The film also takes its own sweet time in terms of pace and I’ll admit that it might not be to everyone’s tastes. Personally, I was entranced from start to finish. The performances are all superb, and the nuts-and-bolts workings of Jack’s professional life feel hugely authentic making the whole thing completely gripping. As do the more intimate scenes in which he ignores his employer’s advice, “don’t make friends”. It’s an alternately warm, cold, witty, incredibly tense script by Roland Joffe adapted from Martin Booth’s novel, A Very Private Gentleman.

This is pure speculation, but I imagine director, Anton Corbijn made the film he set out to make, without any kind of interference from either its financial backers or Clooney. At least if there was I bet Corbijn never conceded to stray from his vision. This is the follow-up to his assured debut feature, the Ian Curtis biopic Control and I’m shocked and very saddened to hear his announcement that he only wishes to make one more feature film. 

1 comment:

  1. If a Cloonster film ever gets less than five stars on this blog I'll hunt you down like a dog......and that includes One Fine Day.

    You get a pass on Batman & Robin.