7 January 2011

THE AMERICAN (Dir. Anton Corbijn, 2010, US) - Time to Retire

Clooney tends to attract a lot of resentment from the mainstream film press. Well, to begin with he doesn’t care what the critics have to say and secondly, his active liberalism has meant he actually chooses his film projects carefully. His ascent from television land has been extraordinary and whilst initial commercially safe films like The Peacemaker, Batman and Robin and One Fine Day seemed to indicate the makings of a pedestrian star image, the collaboration with Soderbergh on Out of Sight in 1998 made him do one of the more interesting and creative U turns in Hollywood film history. Clooney never looked back and with Soderbergh as a creative partner, he continues to make films that actually matter to him whilst also ensuring they are made well. Taking shelter in the rural solemnity of Italy, Jack (Clooney) is a hit-man trying in vain to finish one last job. Interestingly, a lot of critics have been disappointed with Corbijn’s second feature film following the incredible success of Control. Like Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, The American similarly revels in American 70s cinema in which studying the character was far more important than developing some kind of linear, coherent plot line. Director Corbijn refers to his film as a western and additionally it reminded me greatly of the crime films made by Melville in colour including both Le Cercle Rouge and Le Samourai. Nevertheless, the western and Melville may be evident but Clooney’s hit-man waiting for the inevitability of his death is a devilishly familiar accent inherited from the morbid fixations of film noir. Like all great noir films, this is a film about death and time.


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