The American
Focus Features (9/1/2010)
Action, Thriller
In Collection
Seen ItNo
IMDB   6.4
105 mins USA / English
DVD  Region 1
George Clooney Jack / Edward
Irina Björklund Ingrid
Johan Leysen Pavel
Paolo Bonacelli Father Benedetto
Giorgio Gobbi Man on Vespa
Silvana Bosi Old Cheese Vendor
Thekla Reuten Mathilde
Guido Palliggiano Waiter
Samuli Vauramo Young Swedish Man
Antonio Rampino Postmaster
Lars Hjelm Hunter #1
Violante Placido Clara
Filippo Timi Fabio
Ilaria Cramerotti Hooker #2
Angelica Novak Hooker #3
Isabelle Adriani Hooker #1
Raffaele Serao Barman
Anna Foglietta Anna
Anton Corbijn
Producer George Clooney
Anne Carey
Grant Heslov
Ann Wingate
Writer Rowan Joffe
Martin Booth
Cinematography Martin Ruhe
Musician Herbert Grönemeyer

Jack (George Clooney) is like anyone else in the rat race; he's looking for a way out. To his dismay assassins don't get a 401k, instead they are plagued by a flurry of vendettas. After Swedish rivals take a shot at Jack, he is assigned to lay low in a small Italian village under the name of Edward and wait for the next assignment. After a lonely life the urge to bond with the locals proves impossible for Edward to resist. Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) quickly befriends Edward. Before long he develops a romance with Clara (Violante Placido), a lady of the night. Unfortunate for Edward outrunning his past isn't going to be easy, especially when the next job is his most dangerous.
Edition Details
Release Date 9/1/2010
No. of Disks/Tapes 1

Early on it is difficult to relate with Edward since he doesn't believe in giving the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't wisecrack, and for Clooney this is an oddly uncharismatic role. In most occasions an unlikeable protagonist breaks a movie, here it's only a starting point since Edward thankfully develops-or as the movie's symbolism would have it "spreads his wings".

Here's an odd compliment; I love the lack of dialog. Clooney says as much with his eyebrows as he does his mouth. Instead of beating the audience into submission with plot points, the delivery is below the surface. Actions really do speak louder than words and a thriller is great place to showcase this phenomenon. Edward can't be sure of whom he can trust and his exchanges reflect this perfectly and the audience has to stay sharp in order to interpret his actions. For example, instead of taking up residence in the village he is assigned, Edward heads elsewhere but checks in with his boss from the original town's payphone. Obviously there isn't anyone for him to blatantly explain this to but the audience can make an inference. Another example comes when Clara visits with a friend in tow and her lines take into account that she doesn't want her pal to know about her job.

From Dutch director Anton Corbijn, The American is oddly un-American in the sense of it's presentation. If it wasn't but for the face of George, you would swear this was a European production. The quirky timing plays on Edwards paranoia and boredom. Instead of highlighting action, The American puts the spotlight on the downtime and the tension leading up to the inevitable, which is arguably more exiting.

The American is a rare low-key thriller, and from Hollywood no less. It's not perfect. There are some story elements that are conveniently wrapped up in that special way only movies can make possible. I have my doubts that the American viewing public will be interested in The American-not for any prudish sentiment regarding Violante's clothing optional performance-but because the pacing and writing are typically shunned by Joe Sixpack. It's up to you to ask yourself how comfortable you are with being considered normal.