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The American

A movie directed by Anton Corbijn

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4 stars: A man who's art is death will only know death

  • Apr 13, 2011
Rating:
+5

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 the gun before you  the sudden almost arresting thought  of what you have to do to this person washes over you like  the waves crashing against the rocks. You feel the moisture of perspiration running down the side of your face your palms moist under the crippling pressure of the task that lies before you and without a moments hesitation you pick up the gun and shoot the person sitting across from you. The person’s lifeless body falls flat on the floor the sound of the gunshot still echoing off the walls yours hands shake from the rush of adrenaline you have just received from the kill. You place the gun on the table and proceed to examine the body to confirm the kill   you grab the light fixture and point it at the body. In that moment you are struck with an almost paralyzing fear at the sight of the body that lays before you for it is not some random person but someone much closer to you... The person lying on the floor is you! You are the body lying before the person you just shot is yourself you shot your own conscious. You feel the fear rack your body, the sweat trickling down the sides of your face, the adrenaline causing your hands to shake like tree branches in a high wind. You feel the fear, anger, confusion of what you have just done about the consequences of your actions. After about an hour the adrenaline wears off your fear subsides and you feel calm, so eerily calm, that you almost scare yourself you look at the dead body on the floor once more just to see it again. To soak in the daring act of inhumanity you have just committed and the expression on your face is not that of horror but a look of pure puzzlement. The face is no longer yours   but that of someone you have never seen before in your life. You realize that this was all a mind trick  you put the gun on the table and take your seat  that you occupied before, you fix yourself up  grab the gun  and walk away knowing what you have done  you feel no remorse, you feel no sorrow for what you have done. All you feel is the almost welcoming silence that surrounds you. As you walk towards a door you never knew was there   as you twist the knob on the door and it opens bathing you in an almost cold peaceful rays of sunlight. You know there is going to be another day and that the life that you use to live before is over and your new life has begun as a deliverer of death to those paid to murder for the sake of money. Ask yourself this. After so many years you have been doing something like this will you start to doubt yourself, will you start to question what you are doing is right or wrong? You questioned it before in that dark room will you question your destiny; will you question your path as a dealer of death once more and leave this life behind as you did your old? Would you, should you, can you? You know the answer to the question and you know how your life as an assassin always ends in death   and dismay   so how would you choose if you could to leave that world behind. 





Anton Corbijn's "The American" is one of those rare films that come along only once in a great while. Corbijn's has blended a methodical tale of redemption blending it with the meticulous characterization and absorbing pace of such films as Jean Pierre-Melville's "Le Samourai"(1967) or Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner"(1982). Corbjin has crafted such  a quiet  dialogue driven film  with such lush and  bleak cinematography that accentuate the dark yet emotional nature of this engrossing character drama. The  way he uses colors to highlight the darkness like using green lighting in the dark alleyways or reds in a brothel, how he uses mute grays during the day  to give this film an air of  foreboding and dread,  how death looms around every corner,  how at any moment someone could die, he could die. Corbjin and screenwriter Rowan Joffe deftly combine old school drama, techniques, and characterization with modern day style filmmaking to construct a story that not only delves deep into the psyche of a professional assassin but also delves into the psychological aspects of the human condition. How death can play a very important part in how we live our lives and how we choose the path that we will follow for the rest of our days. "The American" is one of the best films of 2010, not solely based on its technical merits but on the merits of its intricately woven story of death, love and life how it spins the of-told story of an assassin trying to escape his life of death. This is a beautifully haunting film. A film that has been grossly overlooked due to its slow pace and lack of explosions, wall-to-wall action  that is not what this film is about this film is about life, about love, about death and what is important in life. "The American" is the intelligent moviegoers film a film that must be looked at for more than what it is on the surface. Seen for the dark, methodical psychological outlook on human nature that it is This is one of the very best of  2010 and one of the best throwback drama-thrillers I have seen in a long, a true  and shining statement that there is still some magic left in the movie business. 






"The American” is-how I would describe it- a thinking man's kind of film. This is a film that depends on your mind to be open too it if you close your mind off to this films deeply layered, character driven story  you will loose  all the enjoyment that you can derive from this astounding feat of filmmaking. However, if you are looking for a good action espionage thriller than I am here to inform you this is not the film you are looking for I can recommend Brian DePalma's  "Mission: Impossible" if that is the kind of spy thriller you are looking for. "The American" is a contemplative psychological chamber drama that delves deep into the psyche of a man whose entire life centered on death. How every move he makes during and after a kill has to calculated down to a T. Everything from where he sleeps, where he lives? Where he goes he has to take account of everything around him that is not the kind of life Jack wants to live he wants to be free to walk around without looking over his shoulder all the time. To truly be free and live a life that he has always felt that he deserves. "The American" is a very thoughtful film in how it plays its characters  it doesn't just use them as a  clothes line for special effects, sex scenes  or  dull romantic situations it uses its characters to get its highly philosophical  points across on the issues of death, love and life. This is one of the year’s best films that take's you down a path that is not soaked in blood but in regret and remorse, this is a story of one man's redemption and how by choosing to leave everything he has known behind he has unleashed a hornet's nest of betrayal, deception, love and murder. This is one of the can't miss films of  the new decade, a true masterpiece amongst many inferior films that came out in 2010 and a gorgeous meditative piece of filmmaking that delves deep into the  lives of a small group of people who surround a man trying to escape his past.





George  Clooney is know best  for his  roles as smooth talking charmers and good -looking rouges and smooth thief's  but as Jack or Edward he has gone to depths I frankly didn't even think he had as an actor. Clooney plays Jack as the kind of man who goes unnoticed wherever he goes, no one pays close attention to him because he doesn't stand out, he doesn't make an impression and by not making an impression, he is able to do his job efficiently and effectively. This is one of Clooney's most low  key performances to date if not the most low key performance of his career delving deep into his dark side to create a performance that not only  becomes one of his finest  but  a performance that almost supersedes acting and becomes something more, something deeper. Clooney has surprised me in some of his roles most notably "Intolerable Cruelty"(2003), "Syriana"(2005), " The Perfect Storm"(2000), "Ocean's 11"(2001),  "Solaris" (2002),   "From Dusk Till Dawn"(1996) "Men Who Stare At Goats"(2009) and  "Michael Clayton"(2007). Clooney has played fast talkers, smooth talkers, corporate giants, news men, fishing boat captains and goof balls  but in  "The American" he takes on a role so different than anything he has ever played before, this is the role of a lifetime and his defining  role as an actor  in one of the best films of 2010. The rest of the cast including Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli, Irina Björklund and Johan Leysen  all turn in strong supporting performances in this beautifully filmed contemplative psychological drama.






Out of all the small number of great films I have seen in 2010 and the massive number of terrible films I saw that year. "The American" is one of the definitive films of a rather abysmal year this film is the dark beacon that shines through the grim and the dirt of the bad films coming out of the gate a glimmer of hope that filmmaking has a chance to still amaze and wow us. This is one of those films.

4 stars: A man who's art is death will only know death

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April 13, 2011
I still need to check this one out, sounds good.
May 03, 2011
It is an exceptional movie but be warned it is a film with a deliberately slow pace to focus more on its story and characters so be prepared.
 
April 13, 2011
Lopez, I do believe you've outdone yourself with this review. Your opening is just so cool and very strong. I dunno, I cannot say much more, very gorgeous and nicely executed review! Featured!!
April 13, 2011
Well thank you , thank you very much. I very much appreciate it, I'm just sorry it took so long.
April 13, 2011
worth the wait, Lopez!!
 
1
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 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Moody, intelligent & artistic; not for all tastes
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 …
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 . 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 . April 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
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 …
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C.R. Lopez ()
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Member Since: Nov 6, 2009
Last Login: Jul 7, 2012 09:53 PM UTC
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Wiki

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.

References
http://www.fandango.com/theamerican_130692/movieoverview
http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/theamerican/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440728/

Official site
http://focusfeatures.com/film/the_american/
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Details

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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