The American


Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Written by:Rowan Joffe
Starring: George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Violante Placido, Irina Bjorklund, Thekla Reuten
Released: November 11, 2010
Grade: B-

So who is this American?  It seems that only a few people know the answer.  Jack (Clooney) is a highly paid assassin who keeps a low profile.  You’ll realise early on that he’s the consummate professional – he takes his time and goes about his assignments with the utmost skill.

Unfortunately, his cover has been blown.  Jack was attacked at his hideout in Sweden and he narrowly escaped with his life.  He’s now fled to Italy and the small town of Castel del Monte.  His employer has strongly suggested that he stay there for a while.  To help pass the time, he’s been left a small task – to put together a sniper rifle for the use of another assassin.

Under the guise that he’s a simple photographer passing through town, Jack makes two new friends.  The first is the local priest (Bonacelli) who has a sense that Jack isn’t who he appears to be.  The second is a prostitute (Placido) who finds herself easily won over by Jack’s class and charm.

This is an impressible shot film from director Anton Corbjin (Control).  It’s the kind of film that I’d be usually jumping up and down about – where the visuals do the talking as opposed to the dialogue.  There’s an aura of mystery about all the characters and you’ve got to wait patiently for more details to be revealed.

My problem however was with the screenplay.  There were many moments which left me wondering why Jack’s actions (and those of others) weren’t attracting more attention.  There’s a car chase which I’ll sight as an example.  I also disliked the ending.  A predictable plot twist was followed by a melodramatic finale.  It felt out of place with the rest of the film.

It may boast the star power of George Clooney but The American isn’t a film for everyone.  I had a healthy debate with a couple of friends (both who liked it) after I saw it at the Brisbane International Film Festival.  It deserves credit for its style but the holes in the screenplay were too hard for me to ignore.