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Sunday, October 17, 2010

BFI Film Festival: The American

The American is the second feature of director Anton Corbijn (Control), who in his Q&A admitted that he desperately tried to move as far as possible from his debut feature, by using non-English dialogues, color use, a bankable star, and a bit of action. The result is a very solid film, although sometimes desperately trying to be more profound than it actually is. Clooney portrays the titular American, a hitman-for-hire forced to hide in an obscure Italian village, while helping a female hitman assemble a weapon. During his stay there, he attempts to connect with the locals, such as the village priest with a hidden past and the local prostitute (naturally, with a heart of gold).

The film is beautifully shot, which shouldn't come as a surprise, as Corbijnis was a celebrated photographer prior to his directing days. Clooney tries for a completely restrained performance; not once in the entire film does he attempt to articulate his emotions or deliver a speech that consists of more than 4 words. All of the (non-English speaking) cast do a terrific job, apar from Thekla Reuten, who was really out of the water in her female hitman part (well, she starred in Highlander 5, what did I expect?). Clooney's dealings with the locals and his restraint give the film its arthouse credentials, but the script structure and some of its plot devices are a bit more run of the mill hitman-on-a-last-job material. The American is an exceptionally well shot movie, that feels superior to what it actually is. 7/10

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