Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The American (2010)

For the air conditioning alone, last night was my second night at The Somerville Theatre, in practically the same seat, seeing such a radically different film than Scott Pilgrim, the film I watched the night before. The American is almost a relic, both European in its style and very, very 1970s in feel. It moves slow, has very little dialogue, very little action (for a film about hitmen), and there is nothing winking or snarky or ironic about it. I liked it a lot, and even as I was enjoying it, I was somehow aware that this was a film I'll have to defend. It's got some hackneyed moments (especially any of the scenes involving the priest), it had symbolism and aspirations toward existentialism. There is also a central relationship between the American of the title (played well, as always, by George Clooney) and an Italian prostitute, the almost painfully gorgeous (and frequently naked) Violante Placido, that was somewhat unrealistic, but this was a film in which its sum is so much greater than its parts. It's a riveting, adult thriller in which mood is just as important, or more, than plot.

One more thing: this is an escapist film, one that is not aiming toward naturalism or realism, and part of that escape is its visual beauty, not just the aforementioned Violante (how has that name never been used in a Bond film?) but the beautiful Clooney himself, his cashmere sweaters, and the northern towns of Italy the movie is made in.

Fun fact: Violante Placido is the daughter of Simonetta Stefanelli, the Italian actress who played Michael Corleone's short-lived Sicilian bride in The Godfather. Pictures below.

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