Monday, November 21, 2011

The American

The American; thriller-drama, USA, 2010; D: Anton Corbijn, S: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli

Assassin Jack arrives to the small Italian town Castelvecchio for another assignment of his boss Pavel. One of his associates, Mathilde, wants him to build a tailor-made sniper rifle, so Jack goes on to assemble it from various devices. Upon meeting a priest and a kind prostitute, Clara, who falls in love with him, Jack starts to feel the effects of his long suppressed loneliness and the urge for love. He creates the rifle but tells Pavel he quits his job afterwards. After delivering the weapon, Pavel and Mathilde try to kill him, but Jack outsmarts them. Still, he succumbs to his wounds before he could start his love with Clara.

Even though it might seem sterile and pointless at first, contemplative minimalistic art thriller-drama "The American" actually subsequently turns out to be a quality made film with a precise purpose, where the long and empty scenes evoke existentialism of the tragic protagonist, assassin Jack (great George Clooney) who in the end gets so consumed by his profession that he can never relax, fearing that every passer-by might be his killer. By setting the story inside a small, rural Italian town where people still seem to have some traditional values, friendship, and some kind of joy of life, the authors set-up the stage for Jack "melting away" and wishing to blend in with them, creating very good character development: the scene where he and assassin woman Mathilde lie on the meadow for a "fake picnic" but then suddenly observe a butterfly gently landing on her, sums up perfectly the contradiction of two "ugly" antagonists suddenly getting puzzled by beauty. The movie is not original, nothing here was not already shown before, yet just like its forerunners, Melville's "The Samurai" and Furuhashi's "Samurai X: Reflection", it bravely shows the only possible conclusion for a hitman who cannot live happily ever after after what he has done, but will experience death himself, which is precisely why the ending is so intense.


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