Saturday, September 4, 2010

The American (2010)

Yesterday I went to see The American. The trailer looked good (of the spy/assassin genre, and set in bella Italy), and I avoided the reviews so as not to know the story.

The film is decent but somewhat disappointing.  Perhaps a 6.5 out of 10?

The overriding characteristic is that it's extremely slow -- long stretches where there's no dialogue and no music, and you just watch George Clooney brood (unfortunately it's not clear what he's brooding about).  The slowness was appealing at times (as a nice antidote to the standard non-stop action blockbuster), but I wanted more character study.

There are a number of strange scenes where Clooney works on assembling a high-powered rifle, and I was honestly reminded of either MacGyver or The A-Team, except that in these scenes I think you are supposed to be moved by Clooney's focused energy (whereas those others played up the kitsch).

There's also a subplot with the local priest, and those scenes have some of the film's more interesting dialogue about relativism and sin.  The prostitute Clara is an interesting character who brings a little bit of life to Clooney.  And the scenery of Italy is gorgeous (it reminded me in particular of Cortona) -- those pictures were actually worth the price of admission. 

Alas, though, the movie falls short on the character (or lack thereof) problem.

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