Transformation is the underlying theme of this beautifully shot and delicately paced film starring George Clooney in the lead role as, Jack ‘The American’. Jack is an assassin of expert skill and craftsmanship, who has become increasingly disenchanted with his lonely existence outside society, and is looking to get out of the killing business. Sure, this is a familiar story, but ‘The American’ tells it in an intriguingly different way.
Showcasing the beauty of the Italian countryside, there are some breathtaking views of the landscape taken at distance, as if to remind us that the dramatic events unfolding in the lives of the characters are of little consequence when viewed from an appropriate perspective.
I love movies like this one, that don’t necessarily fill in all the blanks … it is a film which raises questions and provides much to dwell on … Can we ever truly control change in our lives? Do we ever escape our past? Are we able to live apart from society?
The image of the butterfly is subtly used throughout, offering a clever analogy of the type of transformation that Jack is looking to make in his life – from life alone in his cocoon, to the blissful freedom of flight. Jack slowly unfolds his wings and dares to form connections … Of course, making a permanent career change is never as easy as it seems, a situation which is further complicated when trying to extricate oneself from a business as dangerous as contract killing.
George Clooney gives a wonderfully subdued performance, and there is an interesting balance between the meandering nature of the storyline and the suspense-filled situations his character finds himself caught in … If none of that interests you, it’s worth seeing just for the beautiful visuals alone … (and by that I don’t just mean Clooney dressed in a towel).