lørdag 16. november 2013

The American (Corbijn)

Netflix premiere: November 16th - 2013
Play in Netflix

From having watched the trailer and my impressions from the cover/posters, The American turned out to be a totally different movie than I expected. This is not testosterone action.

George Clooney stars as a killer-for-hire who assembles an assassin's rifle for a client in Italy while developing a relationship with a prostitute. The cinematography is stunning and the The American rivals Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley for Italyporn. Director Anton Corbijn, originally a photographer, composes some beautiful shots - visually this movie is pretty flawless.

However it is slow, and dialogue is scarce. The plot is nothing special, the motifs of "one last job" and "don't fall in love on a mission" certainly aren't groundbreaking. The majority of the movie is spent watching Clooney assemble and test the weapon he is putting togther and seeing his relationship to the prostitute Clara go from sex and lust to a more serious one.

Clooney gives a strong performance, it's very demanding to have to carry a movie to such an extent that he is asked to do here, but he has charisma and on-screen presence enough to come through. A user review on IMDB (by user MisterWhiplash) likens his performance to Alain Delon in his legendary roles for French director Jean-Pierre Melville. I see what he's getting at, and Corbijn has also been influenced by Melville for this movie, I believe.

This comparison also highlights my main problem with The American. Melville has a greater sense of pacing, and although I appreciate the contemplation on the theme of exploring the humanity and capacity for love of a cold blooded contract killer, this one is a little slow for me. I think there was a way of keeping with the interesting character study, and living on beautiful imagery - while still stepping it up just a little bit more in terms of the action.

Melville's Dirty Money (Un Flic) is available on Netflix (direct link), not his best, but an ok place to start. If you can find a way to watch Le Cercle Rouge, you've got your hands on one of the best European crime movies of all time.

It is hard to overstate the place Melville's films have in Europe, they are beautiful, stylized, cool, exciting and marvelously acted noir thrillers that all movie lovers should check out.

IMDB's: The American, Anton Corbijn, George Clooney, Alain Delon, Jean-Pierre Melville, Un Flic, Le Cercle Rouge, Anthony Minghella, The Talented Mr. Ripley


Jean-Pierre Melville's wiki

Bio of Melville from French Film Guide

Article on Melville's style and movies (Whatculture)

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