Tue, Sep 21, 2010

: The American

The trailers actually turned me off of this one, but then I read about the conflicting opinions of critics (highly positive) and audiences (highly negative). Apparently normal people hated it because the trailers led them to expect a big action thriller while this is a thoughtful, slow-moving art film. Aspects of the latter tempted me to see it, and I’m glad I did as I like it a great deal. It’s not perfect, but it is a intriguing film. The best way to describe this film is to detail one scene: a woman approaches a staircase carrying a gun and as she climbs up, we see in the blurry background behind, almost as an afterthought, a body lying in a pool of red blood. There is no explanation of what happened to the man. What movie skips a chance to show the action of a kill? But this was far creepier, letting the mystery haunt us and raising our opinion of the woman’s killing skills. It was brilliant and subtle and embodies the entire movie, which often eschews action for thought-provoking drama. In terms of story, there isn’t much of one. Basically it’s about a hit-man having qualms of conscience while hiding out in rural Italy. I had worried I’d be bored, but the European environment is so beautiful and real (ancient stone buildings, cobblestone walks, garden-like landscapes, outdoor cafes, and street markets), and scenes are shot with grim tension of mystery and something about to happen (an homage to Sergio Leone’s amazing Westerns), that I was alert almost the entire time. A huge reason for that feeling is a shocking and unexpected event that happens minutes into the film that sets a tone for the unexpected. On top of great cinematography we have fantastic performances from the excellent cast: George Clooney in the lead does some of the best work I’ve seen from him, with huge stretches of him merely thinking and yet we can tell what’s going on in his inscrutable mind. Impressive. Yes, the film is languid-paced and artfully photographed and there is little explained directly (the audience is expected to think), but if you’re the type to see those as good things rather than negatives, you’ll like this film. If they turn you off, you’ll hate it. I will say I agree that the marketing of the film is completely wrong and the title is horrible as it implies a political thriller and this has nothing to do with that at all (in fact, we are never even told who the target of the assassin, or who is paying for it). I vastly prefer the book’s title of “A Very Private Gentleman.” I don’t know why they changed it as the current title sets up expectations it can’t deliver.

Topic: [/movie]