Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THE AMERICAN

George Clooney, Johan Leysen, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido


Cinema 4, Greenbelt 3





"The American" is devoid of any computer generated special effects, loud car chases and fast paced action scenes yet it still manages to reel you into its character driven approach of telling a story.

Most of the movie is spent on the most mundane of tasks, the main character "Jack" (George Clooney) who is a weapons expert/hired assassin goes about the details of his business with meticulous attention. Much of it is carried out in complete silence amidst the serenity of a very picturesque Italian town where he hides as he waits for his next assignment. He connects with an intuitive local priest, as well as a beautiful young prostitute named Carla. As he goes about his work, he contemplates on his existence and decides to retire from the assassination industry. But in a business dominated with violence and ruthless people, retirement isn't really an option.

This film is notable for how little it explains. You won't find any tell all revelations nor any shocking twist towards the end that will make you go "ahhhh ok now I get it!" We are only given glimpses of how Jack operates in his temporary home. We do not know, for example, who is going to be killed by the gun he is constructing, or why that person is being killed. We do not know much about the people chasing Jack, other than their nationality. Everything is cloaked with an air of mystery and ambiguous intrigue.

I believe the film succeeds mainly due to George Clooney's subtle performance of a mysterious and complex character. A lesser actor might have balked at the ambiguity of this character, but Clooney revels in it. He plays up the mystery and his disconnection from the rest of society is notably visible. Even in the most mundane of scenes, Clooney looks haunted, indicating a history that we otherwise will never know.

"The American" is an unconventional thriller. A clever showcase of character driven technique sans the typical ear piercing action sequences of modern thrillers. Even though very little of the plot is actually revealed and the violent and haunted past of the character is never truly fleshed out for our viewing discretion, it is still a compelling film to watch!

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