The American (2010)

The American (2010) — For better or worse this is more the movie I though Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control would be and as such, I liked it rather more than that movie. It has a sort of throwback feel to it, like low-key character driven Eurpoean movies from the 1950s and 1960s.  Hell given director Anton Corbijn’s widespread history of shooting in black-and-white, I’m half surprised this movie is in color.  Corbijn of course started out as a music photographer before moving to music videos (“One” by U2, “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode, “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana, “Hero of the Day” by Metallica, and many many more) and eventually his feature debut three years back, the biopic of troubled Joy Division singer Ian Curtis (who Corbijn knew) Control.  The plot follows an assassin who may or may not be named Jack (he gives several names throughout the movie) played by George Clooney. He’s hiding out from some recent troubles in Sweden and unsurprisingly questioning this life he has chosen for himself. He doesn’t do much besides see a prostitute (Violante Placido), wax philosophical with a priest (Paolo Boncelli), and build a custom weapon for a fellow assassin (Thekla Reuten).  The film almost isn’t really about the things Jack does as much as the methodical way in which he does them. You get a picture of a man who is going through life defined by what he does with no clear idea where that is going. Jack does a lot to keep people at a distance but that in itself kind of tells you about him.  A lot of people in the audience seemed disappointed in the movie and I guess they maybe expected more action or something.  There are sporadic bursts of violence in the film that maybe the trailers played up a bit too much (though I don’t think so) but I thought it was rewarding and quiet movie that I enjoyed.

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