Sunday, 30 October 2011
DVD RACK (TOP CHOICE): THE AMERICAN
The leading man of the United States 'Rome's' around Europe.
15, 105 Minutes. Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli, Irina Bjorklund, Bjorn Granath, Johan Leysen, Filippo Timi. Director: Anton Corbijn. Screenwriter: Rowan Joffe.
As George Clooney adds more stamps to his passport 'The American' on the outside looks like an excuse for the housewives favourite sexiest man alive to get his Chevy Chase on and take a European vacation between work. Still, however if you take a look inside this picture you'll see that it is in fact another great Clooney film to add to the collection as the leading man furthers his legend.
In this modern day George Clooney may be the closest thing we have to Cary Grant. The similarities to the classic star and the modern day hero are apparent. Even the score and the poster of 'The American' is a throwback to vintage cinema art and promotion. While the black and white image of a running Clooney on the billboard is almost has shades of 'North By Northwest'. Quite fitting for a man who might play Robert Vaughans (a man who looked like the next Cary Grant) role in an upcoming 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' film.
This American and his film however are as individual and original as they come. With Clooney taking lead and production credits he looks to repeat on the classic status of 'Michael Clayton' with another deep dramatic thriller delving into characters with conflict and a troubled human nature. 'The American' centres around George Clooney's hit man character, who is in Italy for one last job where he has to construct a rifle but apparently doesn't even have to pull the trigger (we'll see). It is apparent however that the hunter has become the hunter and death isn't the only thing this assassin has been marked for. He's the target of love too.
What results is a rich tapestry of classic writing, direction and acting in a moody and atmospheric piece. This slow burner ignites from the start all the way to the last billow of smoke. The tension of this picture is pulled from the first brutally beautiful, frozen frame of the snowy wilderness and tightens all the way to the thrilling and anxious climax. Sure this film is slow and if you don't stay with it you may get lost in your own thoughts but like a great novel (and this film is based around a brilliant one ('A Very Private Gentleman')) it's best to keep reading into this. Each frame is directed and shot perfectly, the Italian scenery is beautiful but also captures the protagonists loneliness and isolation. These are perfectly depicted by Clooneys espresso (or should I say Nespresso) for one moments in Italian coffee bars that are as lonely and evokingly reminiscent of Edward Hoppers 'Nighthawk' painting.
The drama and the action is clinical and calculated but still the entertainment multiplies being just what a Clooney fan ordered. Whilst the romance is as real and evoking as the women in this picture. As the drama builds you know this is Clooney's domain and again he delivers. Just like 'Michael Clayton' this is a study of a character with his back against the wall and just like Clooney himself the character responds with class. There's even a scene similar to the closer of 'Clayton' where Clooney is head on with the camera as the direction goes through the motion of his changing emotion and expression perfectly.
The cold, dark, side streets of Rome provide the right backdrop for some perfect action set pieces. It also looks like Clooney took a 'Bourne' crash course lesson on cold killing from his 'Oceans' friend Matt Damon. Where as in contrast the beautiful sunny, pretty as a Picasso picture scenery of the Italian countryside provide the best setting for some of the films more touching and poignant moments. These stark contrasts help develop the impersonal assassin side and just a man personal side of Clooneys character. What results is one of the deepest stories from an actor who refuses to tread shallow water. George Clooney once again takes his time with this picture like art and you can see the master of his creation in every stroke. TIM DAVID HARVEY.