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The American

A movie directed by Anton Corbijn

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A Quiet, Quality American

  • Sep 2, 2010
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 the polar opposite.  George Clooney plays Jack (or Edward depending on who he is talking to), an assassin on what he hopes to be his last assignment, hidden away in a tiny Italian village, where he expects no one will ever find him.  Unlike his American friends, Jack keeps to himself as much as possible and tries to make as little noise as he can but, just like his American friends, he does not leave without disrupting everything.

THE AMERICAN is a very quiet film.  Corbijn shows immense growth from his first feature, CONTROL, a black and white ode to Ian Curtis, the tragic lead singer of Joy Division.  As promising a start as that was, Corbijn seems to have found a pace and tone that he is not only comfortable with but that he finishes by owning as a distinct style by the close of the film.  He manages to maintain a subtly captivating sense of suspense and intrigue despite the fact that very little is actually happening on screen.  Jack spends most of his time assembling a weapon for a kill and fighting his desire for a local prostitute (Violante Placido).  Still, the real threat that comes with the territory of wanting to end your career as an assassin is forever looming over everything.

Clooney is THE AMERICAN.  In fact, he is the only American actor in this whole picture, which only further serves to separate him from his surroundings.  Clooney stands out because he chooses to embrace his position as an aging actor, one who is faced with wanting more from life than he has come to know and expect.  Jack is no different.  He is torn between his American drive to be the best and his human need to retire his crown in the name of deeper ideals.  When it comes to depth, America is not always on its strongest legs but fortunately for this American, he’s got some very solid direction from a talented Dutch filmmaker to back him up.

Thanks for reading.
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September 02, 2010
Great review, Joseph! I do have some interest in seeing this one and you have sealed the deal for me. It is a long weekend so I'll have some time to catch up on movies this weekend! Thank you again for your support to our community!
September 03, 2010
Just remember, it moves a very slow pace ... beautifully slow in my opinion. just slow enough to be completely enthralling ... but you gotta be into that. That said, and I'm not even of this persuasion, the ladies are often very gorgeous and very naked in the film, if that helps.
September 03, 2010
Oh I am used to a slow-paced screenplay and naked ladies always help the experience--thanks, Joseph!
February 06, 2011
you were right....I rented this the other night despite the mixed reviews here in this site. I really liked it! I went out to buy it the very next day. The pacing wasn't too slow for me since each scene had a lot to express, each action and reaction meant something. Great film!
February 08, 2011
I'm glad you enjoyed it. I bought it too but have yet to watch it again just yet. I should soon though.
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 . 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 …
review by . September 22, 2010
I enjoyed The American, but this movie may not be for all Americans.  It was SLOW, yet thoughtful.  Lovely scenery. Clooney shone, even through his geezer inspired wardrobe.  A gritty flourescent-lit side of Italy.  Not quite the postcard-Italy of Eat, Pray, Love.
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
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … 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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