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George At 

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The American


A thoughtful character study that feels like a mashup of Hitchcock and "The Day of the Jackal", 2010's THE AMERICAN is a slow but sure thriller.

George Clooney stars as an American assassin hiding out in Italy, preparing for his last mission. While his handlers start to question if he's still "got it", he finds moments of solace with a very select few.

First is Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli from "Mission Impossible: III") a non-judgemental priest who finds him interesting company over a glass of wine. Their conversations are fascinating as the assassin remains as selective in his words as the priest does his advice.

Second is beautiful prostitute Clara (Violante Placido) who carefully builds a personal relationship with him beyond their professional arrangement. Placido is terrific.

The last character in his life is his final client Ingrid (the gorgeous Irina Bjorklund) who has ordered some very custom weaponry for the final mission.

Like early Hitchcock, most of the film is very carefully choreographed character set up in exotic European locations. Nothing much happens, but it's beautiful to watch.

When violence explodes, it's sudden, lethal and carries real consequence.

It's interesting to see Clooney in a role that mostly asks him to lay low, displaying as little personality as possible. He can be pretty menacing when he turns off all that effortless charm on screen.

THE AMERICAN won't be for all tastes, it's very methodical. But I thought it captured the feeling of being an American in a foreign country in a way that very few movies have. The last time it felt this tangible to me was Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation". There is a palpable, hard to describe cocktail of excitement and loneliness that I've felt places like Chile, where no one speaks English and you are there alone on business. Director Anton Corbijn, who also made the superb "A Most Wanted Man" gets it just right.

Settle in for a long slow burn and enjoy THE AMERICAN. It's an adult thriller that gets an appreciative B.


(Godfather fans: Violante Placido is the daughter of stunning Simonetta Stefanelli who, as Apollonia, fell in love with Michael Corleone, in The Godfather in 1972. The resemblance is startling.)

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