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Saturday, 22 January 2011
Anton Corbijn, Dutch film director and photographer, describes his second feature film, the first being the black and white biographical film Control that told the tragic life of Ian Curtis lead singer with the 70s band Joy Division, as having a western structure and watching The American (2010) you can see where he’s coming from. Killings are carried out by a handsome stranger during a gun fight; he becomes a fugitive and hides out in a small town. This obvious outsider hooks up with the local priest and a beautiful hooker. Clearly the past catches up with him and the classic showdown takes place in the centre of town, you can’t go wrong with a plot like that!
The Hit Man.
Set in modern day Italy, the stranger is played by George Clooney, part hitman, part gunsmith who while holidaying with his girlfriend in the bleak snowy wilderness of Sweden is forced into a fire fight with opposing agents and ends up killing them along with his girlfriend. Instructed by his handler to travel to the small town of Abruzzo he is given an assignment to build an untraceable rifle to be used in a killing. While there he meets and forms a relationship with the local priest, who seems to understand the stranger, and the gorgeous Clara, a prostitute played by Violante Placido who subsequently falls in love with our gunsmith.
and the Hooker.
Adapted by Rowan Joffe from A Very Private Gentleman by a British novelist Martin Booth and shot in sumptuous colour and picturesque locations by Martin Ruhe which cleverly competes with the harshness of the subject matter. What we use to call a slow burner, the film never allows us to get inside the Clooney character and the viewer has to make his own assumptions and that’s the strength of this immensely enjoyable thriller. Highly recommended to these capable of enjoying a slice of American New Wave Noir without the normal signposts.