It’s no big secret that the Chickflix chicks all love George Clooney and not just for his, ahem, acting skills. But rather – perhaps even more so- for his genuine passion and compassion for global justice and humanity. For that reason alone, I urge everyone (over 18) to go see The American to support Clooney… even if this movie does feature a much darker George than we’ve generally come to expect.
The American has the look and feel of a foreign film that might have been made in Italian with English subtitles. In other words – not exactly my cup of tea. But Clooney (as he always does) makes this film more than watchable, if not altogether enjoyable.
Clooney plays Jack (alias: Edward), an assassin and gunsmith who has himself apparently been marked for death. Jack seeks refuge in a small Italian village while awaiting his next assignment. But his “contact” (at some unknown entity) is afraid that Jack has lost his edge because he had the bad sense to get involved with a woman (go figure). Apparently, there’s no room in this line of work for personal attachments of any kind, any where.
The end result is a dark and lonely existence for Jack, who tries to keep his interactions to a bare minimum. There’s a femme fatale client who pops in and out of the Italian countryside to test and acquire a special gun that Jack has made. There’s a priest (Paolo Bonacelli) who senses in Jack a troubled soul that’s hungry for salvation/redemption. And a beautiful Italian prostitute (Violante Placido) who falls for Jack/Edward in a twisted Pretty Woman sort of way. Jack is kinda hooked on her too – until he suspects her of setting him up. Much of the film’s ‘R’ rating can be attributed to their –um- scenes, though we see a lot less of George than we do of Violante. Her character spends much of her screen-time topless. Ah, those Europeans!
The American is quietly intense. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Clooney’s trademark twinkle-in-the-eye mischievous grin, you’ll be very disappointed. His portrayal of Jack is, necessarily, conflicted and brooding, sad and dangerous. He doesn’t smile – ever. And those sexy eyes remain dark and flat.
This movie could prove a very tough sell for Focus Features. It doesn’t fall into any of the mainstream Hollywood categories and could easily fall through the cracks come Award Season – despite the star-power of George Clooney. But again, we’re talkin’ George Clooney here. So while I didn’t love The American, I can respect Clooney’s choices, and he does deliver a superb performance. So I’ll forgive him this foray into arty territory… if he promises to bring sexy, romantic, funny and fun George Clooney back to the big screen as soon as possible!