“The American”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Take the Bourne movies and give them a heavy dose of Ritalin and what you’ll get is The American. It’s probably one of the most realistic spy movies ever made, which could be a good or bad thing. On one hand you get a beautiful sense of reality, and on the other you get to experience it all in real time. I’m not kidding; you’d better bring a lunch. The American is based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman, and it shows. I haven’t read the book, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty faithful interpretation of the source material. Mostly because it feels like you’re watching a book. There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of quiet time. You know that time that’s spent inside the character’s head while you’re reading? The only thing is, when you’re reading the book, you get to read those thoughts, but when you’re watching the movie, you just basically get to watch him think. It’s really quiet.

George Clooney gives an outstanding performance, as does the rest of the cast. But, Clooney’s ability to bring the complexity and soul of this character to life with just a few looks, is clearly a credit to his talent. We might not be reading the book, but Clooney acts the hell out of those thoughts. The other thing that’s really nice about the performance is that he’s troubled. He’s confident, but at the same time he’s almost oozing anxiety. I also really like the choices that director Anton Corbijn made in the overall look of the film. I love that he changed Thekla Reuten’s character’s hair each time we see her. When Jack (George Clooney) first meets Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), she’s a brunette, then a blonde, and then a red head. Once again, I didn’t read the book so I’m not sure if Mathilde’s hair changes in the novel, but I liked it just the same.

I know that The American is getting mixed reviews, and I honestly can see why. If you go in to it expecting an action packed spy thriller, like the trailer implies, you’re going to be really disappointed. Not only disappointed, but maybe even pissed. It’s such the polar opposite of that description that the term false advertising does come to mind. The American is definitely the type of movie you need to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy. I wasn’t in that frame of mind when I went to see it. I was ready for the movie the trailer sold me on, which is not the trailer I’ve attached below. I wanted to represent the movie a little better for you here. I think after reading this review and seeing the trailer below, you’ll have better idea of what to expect. The more I thought about the movie after seeing it, the more I liked it. I think my rating reflects that, but I’m almost positive it would have been a lot higher if I had actually known the kind of movie I was about to see before hand. I think it’s definitely going to be an Oscar contender later this year, and is well worth checking out. That is, if you ready yourself for a really nice, slow moving, character study. We’re talking sail pace here people.