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The American movie poster

The American: Movie Review

Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli
Released by: Focus Features

In Short: Lacking wild action scenes and a bit plodding at times, this tragically beautiful film about an assassin's secluded and lonely life may not be fully appreciated by an American audience.

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The Un-Amiable American
Can Americans Love “The American?”

Cue: naked woman, shirtless George Clooney, a gun. Bang! Welcome to “The American.” In the opening scenes of his film, director Anton Corbijn (whose previous work includes “Control”) delivers high suspense (even provoking a collective audible gasp from the audience), but where are the thrills during the remaining 100 minutes?

Based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, “The American” follows the life of assassin Jack (George Clooney), a solitary individual who has lived by the gun for what appears to be a very long time. After a harsh assignment abruptly ends in Sweden, our lonesome character is hiding out in a small hillside town in the Italian countryside near Abruzzo. While holed up, he is given a new assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, and though he’s set on shutting himself out from the world, he inevitably falls for a beautiful prostitute and befriends the kind and quirky local priest.

Thekla Reuten in The American George Clooney in The American

“The American” has moments that feel wonderfully poetic while others are simply dull and depressing. And while beauty can be found in the tale of a tragic man who yearns to reconcile his dangerous life and find peace, it is a story that has a hard time captivating its audience. Don’t fight the urge to yawn, just embrace the doldrums as part of the overall experience. For while it can be plodding along at times, “The American” has much going for it: intelligent writing, creative direction with a fitting score, beautiful cinematography with multiple wide lens shots of the majestic Abruzzo landscape, and good acting. But ultimately, it is a film that may not win the praise of most Americans. While minor suspense is perpetuated throughout the story, “The American” is lacking the rip-roaring, adrenaline-pumping action scenes that people may expect to see in a movie like this. No wild rides here, just quiet beauty. And that may not be enough.

Reviewed by Alexandra Rowinski

(Updated 09/01/10 CT)

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