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Masand: 'The American' is agonisingly slow-paced

Masand: 'The American' is agonisingly slow-paced

Even the effortlessly cool George Clooney appears uncomfortable, trapped in a character he can't seem to wrap his head around.

Caste: George Clooney, Irina Björklund

Director: Anton Corbijn

George Clooney-starrer ‘The American’ could work as a good cure for anyone battling insomnia. This agonisingly slow-paced but stylishly-shot thriller sees Clooney cast as a professional assassin named Jack, who is instructed by his handler to lie low in a quiet Italian town when it appears that a team of Swedish hitmen may be on his tail.

Hanging out in cafes and wine bars waiting for things to blow over, Jack befriends a prostitute he gradually falls for, and a priest with whom he walks about town discussing existential issues. He also accepts an assignment from a mysterious woman to build a high-tech rifle.

On days that he stays in, waiting for parts of weaponry to arrive in the mail, Jack works out in his modest apartment, or sits around morosely contemplating his life.

There is little dialogue in ‘The American’ and very little action or drama. The music is sparse and the overall tone of the film is meditative. However, the sense of tension and intrigue never builds to the point where you’re clutching the edge of your seat anxiously.

The film’s key themes – of redemption and starting afresh – are all too familiar, but the filmmaker’s minimalist approach to telling this story is disconcerting.

Even the effortlessly cool Clooney appears uncomfortable, trapped in a character he can’t seem to wrap his head around. At the screening I attended, I could distinctly hear the sound of snoring from a lady sitting in the row behind me.

To be fair, I was struggling to keep awake myself. ‘The American’ has its moments, but they’re few and far between. I’m going with a generous two out of five for ‘The American’. If you do decide to watch this film, go armed with lots of patience.

Rating: 2 / 5

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first published:October 08, 2010, 23:31 IST