The American (2010) – Review

The American is based on Martin Booth’s A Very Private Gentleman; a story about an assassin who handles in the making and distribution of custom arms and the days of his last job. Residing, then, in the beautiful city of Castlevecchio, Jack (George Clooney), spends his time there living out a nervous existence with the desire of discovering himself, affection, and perhaps even absolution.

While in Castlevercchio, Jack guised as an American photographer known simply as Edward, befriends, upon incident, the city’s priest, Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli)—a man who like Jack shares a horrific secret that he himself has since transcended from and wishes for Jack to pursue divinity just the same as he—and a prostitute, Clara (Violante Placido).

Jack’s paranoia, isolation, and increasing affection in Clara, all together during his stay in Italy combined with the nature of his job, creates a quiet suspense character study that is captivating till the end.

The American, is however, not for everyone.

George Clooney does a wonderful job as the aforementioned Jack, but what is most admirable about The American is that it is progressively silent resulting in, albeit sometimes pretentious art-house mood, beautiful immersion into the film, its characters, and its environment. We as the viewer are forced to enter into Jack’s life through the wonderment of its hushed story-telling and lush cinematography.

It should be noted just how fascinating and seamless of an effort it all appears to be, especially in the sense of Jack’s business affairs and the punctuation they mark on his life. Each meeting with his client and each phone conversation shared with his contact are as a comma to his every day; they are but a pause that keeps him.







The film is not without its existentialist undertones hidden under a near simplistic surface, but what is more, is above its simplicity there is in fact, a raw, suspenseful, character study that fronts the film. It is there that a certain eloquence is found that keeps pressing until the film’s final scenes unfold.

It could be said that The American is a film that is holding its breath until its final moments, much like that of a once unconscious man beneath the water who kicks now for the surface, and it is in these moments of surfacing that both the man and the film erupt with life.







Nevertheless, because of its silent progression, The American perhaps may be regarded as slow, boring; once again, this not a film for everyone.



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