The American struck big at the box office – but is it right for you?

Posted by Jon Wiener on September 8, 2010

You always hear about the one guy at the strip-club who thinks that the girl REALLY likes him.  Nine times out of….um…nine, it’s all a rouse.  I guess the exception to this general rule is any character played by George Clooney.  Allow for me to explain…

Clooney plays Jack, a seasoned weapons expert who is on his final mission in a small Italian town.  Having recently left Sweden due to troubles with the locals (getting shot at seems to be a regular occurrence for Jack), he was forced to flee and rely on his employer to set him up with something new.  Trying his hardest to not make any friends, Jack poses as a landscape/architecture photographer in order to appease the suspicions of his neighbor, the priest.  Forming a feigned bond with the aging clergyman, Jack manages to use every resource in order to complete his mission without rattling the cages.

The plot-point that I was alluding to earlier is that Jack becomes enamored by Clara (Violante Placido), a local prostitute.  Though he does have his suspicions about her, Jack is quite taken by Clara, and serves as his main romantic interest throughout the bulk of the film.

One subplot is probably a symbol lost amongst most viewers: the bullerfly.  Butterflies are usually associated with big changes – perhaps the constant mention and Jack’s obsession with butterflies relates to his desire to leave to weapons business forever.  Unfortunately, it’s a pretty lazy metaphor – plus, it manifests by ways of awkward CGI and a Jersey-Shore boardwalk tattoo in between Jack’s shoulder blades.

Here’s a quick bit of coincidental trivia – In 1997, Violante Placido starred in an Italian film called Farfalle, which in English, translates to “Butterflies”.  Throughout The American, various characters refer to Jack as “Mr. Farfalle”.

Anyway, I generally liked The American.  It had a great pace.  The sound design was flawless.  Performances were spot-on.  I could have used a bit more action / cool weapon montages, but I was pleased overall.  I would recommend this film, but it could wait for video.  It’s already proven itself with a #1 box office ranking.

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