Sunday, September 05, 2010

The American (2010)

I had been interested in seeing this when I first saw the trailer awhile back.  I've always been a fan of stories about spies, assassins, and other under worldly persona's.  Charles Bronson in "the Mechanic", Terrance Stamp in "the Limey", and Bob Hoskins in "the Long Good Friday".  All of these movies are fascinating and are good portrayals of people on the other side of the tracks.  The American is a movie that follows that same formula, yet Cloney as the main lead plays it laid back.  Jack or Edward we really don't know his name is a contract killer or a man who supplies contract killers.  The story never says though in one conversation his employer says he doesn't have to kill here.  That's what makes this movie interesting.  It's the ambiguity of the story that pulls us in, and of course Cloney's performance.  In the first few minutes of the movie we are treated to an ambush.  Just when you think you know where the story is going to go Cloney's character does something unexpected.  It is this event that really seals his fate, and even though we get to like Cloney's character through his performance we know that the inevitable is waiting.

"The American" is a movie which is superbly shot, and has enough atmosphere to swallow the viewer whole.  It is Cloneys performance and the performances of his co-stars that make this movie so watchable.   Violante Placido is beautiful to look at and she gives a good performance of a prostitute who falls for Cloney's character.  There is a love scene in the film that is both erotic, and sensual without being exploitative.  It works in the sense that we get to know a little bit more about our characters.  Also Cloney shows himself off quite well also in the movie and I'm sure it's for the female audience of the movie.   But maybe it's more then that.  Cloney's character is defined through his actions and what he doesn't say.  In other words Cloney shows us depth of the character through his gestures and eyes.   Not many actors can do this, but Cloney can, and he does it so effortlessly.

The audience I saw it with didn't seem to like it, and seemed bored by the movie.  This is no action movie.  It is a character piece and one that has a thick atmosphere of deceit, and beauty.  Maybe it's the way the studio is marketing the film that throws off it's audience, but I do believe that there is an audience for this type of film.  Maybe it's the ending that the audience doesn't like.   Yet I find that to be too simplistic of a statement.  I really liked this film, and I liked all the performances in it.  Paolo Bonacelli  as the priest is a fascinating character, and one who feels three dimensional.  Thekla Reuten also gives an interesting performance as a fellow assassin. 

I can go on and on about the film, and how I liked it, yet I'm afraid that it won't find it's audience especially after coming out so early in the fall season.  There should be some performances here that are worth academy award nomination.  Alone the cinematography should get some mention.  "The American" is a movie worth seeing for its performances and its story of a man who can't escape his past.  If you like good cinema I suggest you see it.

No comments: