VOD film review: The American
James R | On 25, May 2013
Director: Anton Corbijn
Cast: George Clooney, Thekla Routen, Violante Placido
One might be forgiven for thinking that a film called “The American” starring George Clooney fits into the Bourne niche. It doesn’t. What is does do is cast Clooney as a world-weary, grey-haired assassin – and strip his surroundings almost entirely of any blockbusting action.
After having his peaceful Swedish sanctuary violated, Jack (Clooney) quite literally comes in from the cold. His handler in Rome still has a job he wants Jack for. Eager to avoid attention, Jack takes the job, then goes and hides out in a small Italian town, where he tries not to be mistaken for a tourist.
During his sluggish, small-town life, Jack, ever conscious of his need to remain isolated, reluctantly begins to interact with the locals. The friendly priest knocking on his door won’t take no for an answer and a local woman is getting increasingly attached to him. As he starts connecting with the people around him, an enigmatic stranger approaches him for a specialised weapon. Amid these contradictions, he realises his desire to leave his solitary life.
The American is a slow and methodical film, driven by Clooney’s stoic protagonist. Unlike Bourne or Bond, it’s short on stunts and set pieces, which may frustrate many who aren’t prepared for Anton Corbijn’s careful pace. But the film as a whole is beautiful. Not as beautiful or intense as the director’s debut film, Control, but there’s something captivating about its drawn-out narrative and willingness to simply wait and absorb the atmosphere. The result is more a treatise on loneliness than the adventures of an assassin, and all the better for it.