The American ****


Those who attend “The American”, starring George Clooney, based only on the exciting television commercials that make this film look like a Jason Bourne film are going to be very surprised.  Yes there are some shootings and a chase scene, but those moments are few and far between.  This is a carefully crafted movie featuring a performance by George Clooney that is an exercise in fierce focus.  It is one of his best for sure.

The story opens deep in the woods of Sweden.  Clooney is holding up with a young woman in a cabin.  The forest is blanketed in snow, the air is crisp and the lake in which the cabin resides by is frozen solid.  A morning walk results in a sudden moment of violence and Clooney finds himself on the run. 

He gets in touch with his handler named Pavel.  He tells him to hide out in a small village in Italy and that he has a job for him while he is laying low.  His job involves building a specific weapon for a mysterious woman. 

While staying in the village he begins visiting a young prostitute whom he takes a liking to.  We get a sense that something like this lead to the events in the opening scenes.  But she isn’t everything she seems to be.  In fact we are suspicious of everyone.

Soon after Clooney’s arrival to this small town, people seem to be following him and eventually someone tries to kill him.  Who are they?  How did they know he was here?  Amazingly enough the answers to these questions are not the most fascinating part of this film.

What I found mostly absorbing is the performance by Clooney, the carefully written screenplay and the natural direction by Anton Corbijn.  Every conversation feels like we are listening in to something we should not be hearing.  Dialogue is chosen carefully by all the characters.  It is amazing how even the most carefully guarded people can naturally let tidbits of information escape their lips.  That is how good this script is. 

The country of Italy plays a character as well.  The locations, the towns folk, the country side are always in the foreground.  This movie doesn’t so much take place in Italy as it is surrounded by it. 

As I mentioned before, I am excited to hear peoples feed back on this film.  Especially after seeing the misleading ads.  This is a slow moving film that takes it’s time and involves us without giving us too much information.  It is a character thriller of the best kind. 


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