One’s enjoyment of The American
depends on one’s feelings about George Clooney. Director Anton Corbijn is clearly a fan, having placed almost the entire weight of his movie on the actor’s immaculately dressed shoulders. Clooney plays a professional killer hiding out in small-town Italy following the tragic conclusion of his previous job. He divides his time between a kindly priest, an even kindlier prostitute, a mysterious weapon-manufacturing assignment and pulling his gun whenever there’s a sudden, loud noise. Corbijn takes his time connecting the plot dots and building suspense, putting the focus on Clooney’s quiet, minimalist portrayal of a paranoid man recognizing too late the consequences of his chosen occupation. His performance is the engine that, along with Corbijn’s gorgeous compositions, drives this subtle yet satisfying film.