The American: A Quiet, Yet Beautiful Thriller

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The American, which was produced by it's star George Clooney, is a film that arrives and leaves as a slice-of-life thriller. The music isn't overpowering, there is no fast editing, and yet there is something that has been missing in filmmaking these days: good god-damn acting. It's one of the best films he's ever done, but will probably be a bit of an underrated gem.

Clooney stars as Jack, a man who has spent the majority of his life dedicated to the art of killing people and assembling guns for others. Pavel (Johan Leysen) an associate who gives him work presents him with a job while he lays low in Italy after being nearly killed in Sweden. The job: assembling a gun for Mathilde (Thekla Reuten) for a job she has to complete.

It's a simple story, yet the spaces where the plot could have taken a dive were not much happens is where everything happens.

The ending of the film is pretty much foreshadowed for you throughout the film's runtime. Although what happened left me a little upset, I was also happy because it didn't try for a safe ending. Hopefully I didn't spoil what the ending was for anyone reading this.

There's a bit of a subplot involving a romance with a prositutue named Clara (Violante Placido) and a few moments of introspection brought upon by a priest (Paolo Bonacelli). The side stories never take over the film; instead they all get back to the center of what could the real story: the story of Jack's growing disinterest in his profession and his growing interest in investing in a real life.

I liked the interactions between the priest and Jack. You can sense the priest knew about Jack and what he does for a living. Towards the end, the screenplay never forces their interactions into some sort of ultimate showdown of morals. 

Kudos go out to Martin Ruhe for not just making the scenery look beautiful, but for looking for ways to advance the story and play on the paranoia of Clooney's character. Just about every scene where Jack uneasily walks through Castelvecchio is a delight to see and feel. Hopefully  he gets more work because of this film.

Give it a rent from your local Redbox. It's a film that celebrates the idea that sometimes less is more and everything all at once.

 

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