johnlink ranks THE AMERICAN (2010)

It has been far too long since I’ve watched a 70’s Slow movie. ’70s Slow’ being the idiom I coined for films which aren’t afraid to take their time as they slowly peel back the layers of a story, rather than hacking and slashing its way through a landscape with fast edits, unnecessary exposition, and direction targeted at the dumbest four people in the audience. No doubt this style of filmmaking has always been around, but for me it reached its peak in the 70s with films like CUCKOO’S NEST and CHINATOWN.

I’ve been wanting to see THE AMERICAN since it hit theaters (heck even its poster is 70s inspired), so I’m very glad it came across HBOHD this past month.

I watched THE AMERICAN (2010) on 11.10.11. It was my first viewing of the film.

The pacing for this film really is perfect. I’m sure it is too slow for some, and that is not to meant to be a pretentious statement. Some people go to the movies to be entertained, not to think or to have an experience, but purely to escape. While THE AMERICAN isn’t hard work like, say, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, it certainly moves at a carefully predicated pace.

Directed by still photographer Anton Corbijn, THE AMERICAN takes pleasure in stillness, in contemplative imagery. More of this film is silent than spoken, and it is not any the worse for it.

George Clooney’s performance is unique for him. While I love him in bombastic roles like Danny Ocean or Jack Foley, he is cold and distant here. He engages in relationships he knows are doomed because of his murderous profession. He has enough heart to want to get to know people, but not enough to trump his survival instincts. He spends the entire film attempting to redeem a horrendous act in the film’s opening scene, and his fate is almost knowingly sealed because of it.

Violante Placido is a revelation as the hooker, Clara. We see her as an object before we see her as a person. She has to earn the audience’s appreciation the same way she has to earn Clooney’s. She is a woman doing what suits her, not particularly ashamed or embarrassed by it (though her friends do not know).

This should just be a typical hitman and stripper story. But the performances and the script elevate it way beyond that.

There are maybe four or five beats in this entire film. It could be summarized in a short paragraph. Yet, I walk away from this struck by its beauty, its dedication, and its ruthlessness. I loved this film in a very palpable way.



One bonus point goes to the score, which just haunts this entire picture. The other point goes to the cinematography, a point which is earned within the first five minutes of the beautifully shot European locations.



~ by johnlink00 on November 11, 2011.

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