The American

DRAMA; 1hr 45min

STARRING: George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten

Killing time: Clooney

As gun maker and hired killer Jack in director Anton Corbijn’s moody drama, Clooney is a slippery fish and at first seems similarly cold-blooded. Lying low in a remote Italian mountain town, Jack can’t afford to be incautious. He’s a coiled spring, constantly on high alert for the men who want to kill him. It’s no way to live and all but impossible to escape from. Jack seems resigned to this; his practised solitude speaks of years of habit. But it doesn’t necessarily make him happy.


Corbijn (Control ) is a professional photographer, and he has artfully formed every shot in The American. Nothing groundbreaking happens in the cinematic scheme of things — Jack befriends a local priest (Bonacelli), constructs a weapon for a dark-horse customer (Reuten) and finds tenderness with a dishy prostitute (Placido). The art of Rowan Joffe’s screenplay, adapted from Martin Booth’s 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman, is its enfolding of an emotional spectrum in a slim and graceful framework. And Clooney gets that completely: his contemplative silences are the bedrock of the deeply felt story.