Tuesday, October 19, 2010

London Film Fest 2010 Day 7 - THE AMERICAN

THE AMERICAN is a deeply disappointing film from Anton Corbijn, director of the brilliantly photographed CONTROL. The visuals here are lacklustre, the acting so-so, the plot machinations weak and predictable, and the existential angst we are meant to be exploring taken from grade-school.

George Clooney plays a bespoke weapon-maker/assassin in hiding in a small Italian town. Because, of course, you'd never go into hiding in a large anonymous metropolis. Oh no! You'd go into hiding in a small town where your presence would be conspicuous. The Clooney character is asked to manufacture a weapon by a hot female assassin - mais oui! - and while doing so falls for a hooker with a heart of gold - naturellement! Meanwhile, he has a couple of conversations with a local priest that threaten to become a serious moral conversation but never do.

The resulting film is dull, quiet, ponderous, ludicrous and predictable. This movie doesn't become edgy or interesting just because Clooney allows himself to play a man who does some pretty cold-hearted stuff.  Especially when all that is undercut in the final scenes.  I honestly have no idea what this film is doing in this festival.

THE AMERICAN is on release in most markets. It opens on the 22nd October in Iceland and on 27th October in Belgium, France, Switzerland and Hungary. It opens on November 12th in Brazil and on November 25th in Portugal, Iceland and the UK. It opens in Australia on December 16th.


  1. BillFenner19674/12/10 7:01 PM

    I really wanted to like this film -- no, I wanted to LOVE -- this film, but like you I found it just couldn't grab me. The slow and moody spy/assassin thriller is right up my street. I love La Samourai, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, etc, so I was really looking forward to this one. But ultimately for a film that, in an era of silly super heroes and robot truck action nonsense, was going for the adult thinking-person's entertainment, it felt almost as contrived and cliched as them.

    The "realism" and "grittiness" it achieved was like the kind that you get when you buy pre-worn and frayed-at-the-edges jeans for £120.

    I hate when film makers so explicitly refer to movies they love like Once Upon a Time in the West in this film. What purpose does that serve? For most people who have never seen it, it's meaningless, but for the ones who have -- like me -- I instantly thought of the ending and kind of guessed we were going to lose our Man with No Name with the gut shot he didn't realise he had until he hopped on the horse and began to ride out of town. So irritating!

    On the plus side, I did like their take on the old exploding cigar trick, though!

    At least George is trying, I guess. Didn't work this time -- least for me -- but I admire him for having a go.

  2. I also had high expectations because I loved the style of Control and was genuinely moved by the content. So I trusted Corbijn to make a genuinely thoughtful movie. And you know I love Le Carre. I picked my college because he went there. And I love Le Samourai. But this movie is just weak and thin and superficial. The weird thing is that I've hunted down as many interviews with Corbijn I could find and he genuinely thinks he's made a cool European art house movie. And more surprisingly he claims to have never even heard of Le Samourai!

  3. BillFenner19675/12/10 9:08 AM

    He's never heard of Le Samourai?!? Oh my God, know your cinema history, mate! Ugh ...

    But wait, it gets worse -- if Corbijn has never heard of Le Samourai, then, he must also have never heard of or seen anything by Jean Pierre Melville, right? So he'd probably never seen Army of Shadows, The Red Circle or Un Flic! Put all these films together, mash em up, and you've got The American, don't you?

    Then again, if he had seen any of Melville's films then his film would have been better, especially how he handled the ending.

  4. If he'd ve seen any Melville he would've had the humility not to make this film at all.