Monday, September 6, 2010

An Amateur Review of The American

This is your "Trying hard not to be a spoiler, but who knows what can mess up a movie for a person?" Alert.

Also, I grabbed the poster image off Google which may or may not be legal.  Likely not.  So I blew it up all crummy and pixelated as a mea culpa, just in case.   

We saw "The American."  We don't see many films, certainly nearly none in the theater since we moved here.  We may possibly have spent way too many evenings staring at the water and saying deep things like, "Gulls." or "Boat!" or "Big boat!  Over there." instead.  But one lives with one's choices. 

Which brings me to the show.

It is a gorgeous film.  Fabulous.  Shot like magic.  Framed, like perfect.  In my uneducated opinion:  Sweden was lovely.  Italy, magnificent.  Those helicopter shots of the highways switching back and forth and the little car going?  Superb.
George looked Mmmm Mmmm.  As a matter of fact he looked so good and so terribly George-familiar that I had a hard time separating him out from Jack/Edward, his character. I kept thinking, "He must be redeemable.  He must  be secretly doing good.  He's George Clooney. Rosemary Clooney was his aunt." Not his fault, I don't think.  He can't help being handsome and famous.

And that lady, the prostitute, George/Jack/Edward got very attached to.  She is more beautiful than he is.  She has very nice ... skin.  And we got to see all of it.  Except maybe her feet.  I'm not sure about her feet.  But I'm sure she had very nice shoes.

The movie moved at a glacial pace and every once in awhile the glacier would get blown up in scenes of violence.  There was a surreal quality about almost everything.  The action was almost mystical in its single-mindedness.  I mean, there were murders and, the next morning?  No CSIs.  How is this possible?  Death happened in this film without having any lasting significance in the world.

Ah.  Now I get it.

So, in the end, I came away not having been bored; having, in fact, been caught up in the action, the drama, the conflict, the resolution.  I was entertained -- especially during the parts where we got to see almost all of George's skin.  Let's face it.  I am not an intellectual.

In the end, then, I was caught up and entertained. I came away mesmerized and woke up the next day feeling ... cheated.


It was fantasy.  There was no conflict.  I suggest that as thriller-mad we are (I am) and as lulled as we are by competence at almost anything (I am, even custom gun construction), we know, somewhere in our more cognizant minds -- maybe in our souls -- that there is such a thing as A Bad Man.

Even if he's an interesting, conflicted, unhappy, and, yes, beautiful man. Even if he was a sweet toddler.  Even if he's good to his aging mother.  (Which, in this case, I really doubt.) Even if he can build a great gun with a truly admirable Zen-like attention to detail.

A man who kills people he knows nothing about for money is a bad man.  He could maybe be redeemed by Heaven but not by Anton Corbijn, Rowan Joffe or Martin  Booth. (Not necessarily in that order.)  He can't be saved by a prostitute with a heart of gold or a priest who can actually be forgiven his own minor (in the scheme of things) sin. And most importantly, he can't be saved by me.  And there I was, trying in my role as viewer-participant, to save him.

Rooting for him to get away.  What was I thinking?  Where could a man like that possibly get to?

That's simplistic and I know it.  I did notice that the film had the earmarks of allegory and I was supposed to admire the chill, intellectual design of it.  But I wanted to play.  And, for me the game was a trick.  A set-up.  No matter how lovely the design, the story kind of sucked.  So I came away, after a bit, feeling betrayed and kind of angry. 

See?  That's what makes this an amateur review.  Would I recommend the film?  Yes.  It's worth seeing.  Especially since we just watched "Date Night" on DVD and I have a clear idea of what's a real waste of time.  Anybody's time.

Even a hit man's time.

That's it.  Happy Labor Day to one and all!

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