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college essay finderThe American (2010)

Reel reviews for real people.

Plot: Academy Award winner George Clooney stars in the title role of this suspense thriller. As an assassin, Jack (played by Mr. Clooney) is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, Jack retreats to the Italian countryside. He relishes being away from death for a spell as he holes up in a small medieval town. While there, Jack takes an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). Savoring the peaceful quietude he finds in the mountains of Abruzzo, Jack accepts the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful woman, Clara (Violante Placido). Jack and Clara’s time together evolves into a romance, one seemingly free of danger. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.–© Focus

Rating: R for violence, sexual content and nudity

Genre: Action/Adventure, drama

Starring: George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido

Director: Anton Corbijn

Runing time: 1:45

Kate says – 3 1/2 stars “This is definitely one of those times where it’s good for the average movie-goer to know a little bit about what to expect from a film BEFORE heading into the theater. The previews would have you believe The American is an action/suspense/thriller. I’ll just tell you right now that there is very little action in this movie…plenty of suspense, plenty of thrill, just no action. The story line is as simple as it can get. Clooney plays a bad guy who is tired of being a bad guy so he wants to get out of the bad guy business, but other bad guys keep trying to kill him so he goes away and hides out. But then he falls for a beautiful prostitute with a heart of gold, and well I won’t tell you the ending, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out well before the credits roll. This is one time the story is actually not the highlight of the movie. The film’s strength lies in it’s unbelievably beautiful cinematography. Every shot looks like a beautifully lit and framed photograph.  It’s not only the breathtaking shots of Sweden and Italy, but also the more mundane business of Clooney assembling a made to order gun, that are equally stunning to the eye.  I see the film as more of a character study than an action flick. Clooney gives a subdued and captivating performance as Jack, with a subtle flicker of a facial expression, or the set of his shoulders, often being the only clue to the inner workings of his character. Perhaps, the most noticeable departure from the typical suspense film formula, is the quietness and stillness of the movie. A good portion of the 1:45 running time is spent in complete silence, without even a note of a background score. It’s so quiet you’ll feel conspicuous even chewing your popcorn. It’s unnerving and uncomfortable, but only serves to add to the slow sustained tension that builds throughout the film. The American is about the least American feeling movie I’ve seen in quite some time. This is European filmmaking all the way. You will either love this one, or think it’s an utter waste of your money and time, but at least you can now make an educated guess as to which side of the border you’ll be sitting on.”

Ebert says – 4 stars - “The director is a Dutchman named Anton Corbijn… Here he paints an idyllic Italian countryside as lyrical as his dialogue is taciturn. There is not a wrong shot. Every performance is tightly controlled. Clooney is in complete command of his effect The entire drama of this film rests on two words, “Mr. Butterfly.” We must be vigilant to realize that once, and only once, they are spoken by the wrong person. They cause the entire film and all of its relationships to rotate. I felt exaltation at this detail. It is so rare to see a film this carefully crafted, this patiently assembled like a weapon, that when the word comes it strikes like a clap of thunder. A lesser film would have underscored it with a shock chord, punctuated it with a sudden zoom, or cut to a shocked close up. “The American” is too cool to do that. Too Zen, if you will.” (read full review)

Claudia Puig (USA Today) says – 3 stars “The film has a contemplative allure, unfolding at a deliberate pace. There is no pressure to inject the requisite jolts and chases of American thrillers. There is only one chase scene, no explosions and a limited exchange of gunfire, considering that Jack is a weapons expert. Clooney plays the enigmatic title character with mature confidence. In a climactic scene, he communicates volumes with his eyes and tense facial expression. The film, with its vague, rambling plot, works best as a study of a loner seeking to escape his past. Despite its rugged individualism, The American feels distinctly and lyrically European.” (read full review)

Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune) says – 2 1/2 stars “The new George Clooney film “The American” is pretty. It’s also pretty dour, even with all the luscious Italian Abruzzo mountain scenery, used here as a backdrop to the tale of an old school, one-at-a-time weapons manufacturer trying to get out of the business he’s in, by way of One Last Score…Audiences who have been heavily Bourned and Salted by their thrillers lately might find “The American” a mite … ruminative for their tastes. The movie is a paradox. It’s ostentatiously restrained.” (read full review)

Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly) says – “C” “In the opening sequence of The American, George Clooney is in the middle of a hookup in snowy Sweden when he bumps off the two men who’ve been hired to kill him and shoots the woman he was sleeping with in the back. (She’s innocent, but he can leave no witnesses.) That’s a promising moment… But The American, directed by Anton Corbijn (Control), turns out to be a draggy, rather morose art thriller. The American ends the summer not with a bang but an existential whimper.” (read full review)

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