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The American

A movie directed by Anton Corbijn

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Moody, intelligent & artistic; not for all tastes

  • Mar 3, 2011
I recall reading or hearing somewhere that “The American” isn’t quite what you expect.  I never gave that much thought until I watch the movie.  The promos for this movie depict it as an action and/or suspense film.  This is somewhat misleading and why trailers/previews at times can either praise a film or condemn them before they are released.  I can say that I really, really enjoyed this motion picture.
I am not going to rehash plot detail, because many other reviewers have done a nice job of providing a summary of this flick.  In contrast, I will betray my former statement by saying George Clooney plays a Jack, a hit man who finds pseudo sanctuary in Castel del Monte after a situation of his turns sour in Sweden.  Jack escapes Sweden and after speaking to an old contact ends up in Castel del Monte.  There is more to the movie, such as the Swedish hunting Jack, the duplicity Jack has towards his lifestyle, theology, romance, deception and redemption. 
This movie isn’t fast paced and is not action packed.  It is very minimal in nature and in many ways mimics an art house film.  I found this refreshing because it wasn’t a CGI fest and an unintelligent piece of cinema.  There are lush shots of the landscape, images are framed almost like “still life” and there are periods of time where there is little dialogue.  I wasn’t very surprised by these elements since this movie was directed by Anton Corbijn.
Anton Corbijn has spent most of his career taking photographs and directing music videos.  The former and the latter bless the creative process of this movie.  This would explain the artist cinematography, framing and little dialogue.  There are two scenes in particular that imitate videos that Corbijn has directed one with U2 and one with Depeche Mode.  Corbijn is the creative director for both of these bands and has been so for twenty-five plus years.
As for the acting, I felt George Clooney provided a solid performance as an ambivalent hit man questioning his “purpose”.  Clooney provides most of his acting without and/or little dialogue, which I felt was captivating.  Violante Placido was very good as Clara, the prostitute that Jack becomes involved with.  I must note that Violante Placido is a gorgeous woman and drips with sexuality.

This movie might not be for all tastes (and that is okay), it is slow paced, at times moody and has some film noir element to it.  Notwithstanding, “The American” proves, if nothing else, a movie can still use the basic elements of the human psyche (theology, revenge, hope, sex and redemption) and display them in a moving and intelligent manner.
Moody, intelligent & artistic; not for all tastes

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March 28, 2011
I still need to see this one, great review.
March 31, 2011
Gald you liked the review. Thank you. The Straw Man.
March 06, 2011
liked this quite a bit too. Great review!
March 31, 2011
Gald you liked the review. Thank you. The Straw Man.
March 03, 2011
I was a bit surprised by the pace of this movie as well. Not really at all like the action packed previews I'd seen. I did like it though! The end was a bit of a bummer, but did seem to follow course with the rest of the movie. Great review!
March 07, 2011
Yes the pace of the film is very languid. Under the assumption a person isn't in the mood for this type of film, they will be vexed. However, I really enjoyed it. I do agree with you that the end of the film was a bit of a bummer. I am glad you liked my review. Thanks. The Straw Man
More The American reviews
review by . February 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Deliberate, Methodical, Quiet, Moody
I’ve seen a series of mixed reviews on director Anton Corbijn’s “The American”. A few of them gave the movie high marks while the majority gave it a less than average rating, claiming the movie was such a slow-moving boring affair that they had to fight falling asleep on it. Well, I am not the type who dislikes slow-moving films, I actually revel in them as long as the narrative is compelling, the acting is great and the cinematography is impressive. I would have to say that …
review by . March 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     Depending on your personal definition of true joy, "The American" could very well be all kinds of fun. It's not the kind of fun that would usually get labeled with such a commonly-used word, but perhaps it's entertaining on a number of different levels. Do not go in to the film expecting an action-spy thriller. While "The American" does indeed have a thriller in its guts, it's mostly a drama; and a damn good one too. To say the least, "The American" is different …
review by . September 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Quiet, Quality American
THE AMERICAN   Written by Rowan Joffe   Directed by Anton Corbijn   Starring George Clooney, Thekla Reuten and and Violante Placido      Father Benedetto: You are American.  You think you can escape history.  You live for the present.      Ordinarily, when Americans travel abroad, they are expected to be boorish, loud and down right disruptive.  In Anton Corbijn’s second feature, THE AMERICAN, it is practically …
review by . March 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
After a trip cross country and 3 months away from the movies I wanted to spend some quality time in a darkened theater being entertained by the moving pictures that played out before my eyes,  however this not the welcome I was expected.       The American is a slow moving and depressing story unlike any of Clooney's "traditional" films and expected abilities.  With little to no dialog the passing of time feels as though it takes hours rather than …
review by . April 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
4 stars: A man who's art is death will only know death
I want you to picture yourself sitting in a room, it is dark, and the only source of light is a low hanging fixture that is swinging back and forth back and forth. You look down at the steel table in front of you and before you see a gun, you stare at that gun intensely. Sitting across from you in the shallow light is another person. You don't know who this person is   or why he or she is there sitting across from you  but as you look at that person and then you look at …
review by . March 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The American Is Very Slow Paced
If you like slow moving and slow paced movies then according to my wife and I you will love this movie. We usually love George Clooney movies and when we first saw the previews it looked exciting, and the fact that my wife has actually been to Italy and taken a lot of pictures Italy is really beautiful. The previews did not dispute this fact. This movie is very slow moving and George is a man of little words in the show. I am used to seeing him run the show just like he did in all of his Oceans …
Quick Tip by . January 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is slow... Be warned. But I liked it because it was consistent as to what is was trying to be. If I'd been expecting a fast paced action flick I would have turned it off after 15 mins. If you are going to watch this, I suggest doing it on a rainy night when you are choosing between curling up with a book or watching a movie. I'd say a nice cup of tea, a glass of red wine, or a snifter of brandy would go well with this. Even though it's called The American, it feels like a …
Quick Tip by . April 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Dark, brooding, methodical, meticulous, and engrossing Anton Crobjin's "The American" is easily one of 2010's most morally complex and engaging films of the year, a true masterpiece. "The American" is a stylish and daring return to old school filmmaking of the 60's, 70's 80's and early to mid 90's, this is a slow paced and thought provoking look at what a life as being a deliver of death can do too one man's soul  and mind. Of how …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
TOO slow, TOO boring & TOO long!!! If not for George Clooney, it's a total waste of time as far as I'm concerned! Why would anyone wants to know a killer's mental state of mind (as far as entertainment value is concerned) is beyond me :-) Even though I managed to fast forward the entire movie on DVD, it's still boring!
About the reviewer
Joshua E Hoppock ()
Ranked #39
It is rather brisk in this field. The leaves are descending like a tapestry of aloof dreams. The wind entices these leaves into a plume of whimsical billowing ontological paradox. Then I recall that I … more
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About this movie


The American is a 2010 American thriller film directed by Anton Corbijn and starring George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido, Irina Björklund, and Paolo Bonacelli. It is an adaptation of the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth. The film opened on September 1, 2010. A trailer for the film was released on May 3, 2010.


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Genre: Crime, Drama
Release Date: 1 September 2010 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Rowan Joffe, Martin Booth
Runtime: 105 min
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