BIFF Film Thoughts: The American

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).


  1. Charmaine

    Thanks for visiting. Sounds like an interesting movie will have to see it. The little snapdragons are in the front garden and get full sunlight. The make me smile. Charmaine

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Charmaine – I just heard that ‘The American’ has a cinematic release, so if you do get the chance to see it I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂
      The flowers you post pictures of are always a delight, so I’m very happy you share them (snapdragons are one of my favourites).

  2. Gabrielle Bryden

    Hahaha – thanks for that Tracey (I’m sure the visuals you are talking about include the scenery).

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gabrielle – Haha, yes of course the only thing to delight the eyes in a George Clooney film WOULD be the scenery … wouldn’t it? 😉

  3. Lisa

    Tracey, your critical appraisals are always so polished and skillfully written. Your assessment of “The American” makes me want to very much see it (so many intriguing components and alterations). Such a naturally talented, smart and witty writer you are.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Lisa – Once more I feel you have been too kind in your praise on my cinematic reflections (though I do very much appreciate the lovely compliment).
      I would love to know your thoughts on ‘The American’ if you do chance upon it, as I think it is a film which could be appreciated in many different ways and from many different perspectives … it still has me thinking many days since, so I’m sure there is much more to explore within.


  4. Mel

    Ah, now this I have heard of – but I haven’t seen it, so I was very interested to read what you have to say, thank you xx

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Mel – I thought ‘The American’ was a really interesting film, but I do know some people who have thought differently to me. Perhaps if you see it sometime you’ll let me know your thoughts too? 🙂

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