Wednesday, September 22, 2021

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE AMERICAN

September 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

On the Wednesday before Labor Day, the only major holiday that regularly produces lackluster box-office returns, Focus Features, Universal’s specialty division, has chosen to debut The American, starring George Clooney. The thriller is receiving widely disparate reviews. On the one hand is the Chicago Sun-Times‘s Roger Ebert, who remarks that it is “so rare to see a film this carefully crafted, this patiently assembled like a weapon.” On the other hand, Kyle Smith remarks in the New York Post: “It’s hard to imagine anyone but a critic sitting twice through The American, a pretentious Euro-snore that should occasion a fraud prosecution for any marketer who calls it a thriller — and which stars an actor who seems to wish his name were Jorg Clooné.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times synthesizes the two opinions, writing, “The virtues of the film itself are those of craft rather than art. Its precision is impressive and fussy rather than invigorating. It is a reasonably skillful exercise in genre and style, a well-made vessel containing nothing in particular, though some of its features — European setting, slow pacing, full-frontal female nudity — are more evocative of the art house than of the multiplex.” Clooney himself evokes mixed reviews. “Clooney has excelled in serious roles — notably in Michael Clayton and Syriana,” writes Claudia Puig in USA Today. “But his Jack, a brooding assassin seeking redemption, is a bigger departure, and he pulls it off well. It is easily his most pared-down performance, a throwback to the taciturn gunslingers of Westerns.” But Ann Hornaday sees it another way in the Washington Post, writing: “As for Clooney, he’s been stripped of the self-deprecating character tics that made even his dramatic roles in Michael Clayton and Up in the Air such restrained but somehow extravagant joys to behold; here he plays someone so controlled and closed-off that he’s virtually inert.” And Lisa Kennedy in the Denver Post warns Clooney fans: “If you’re expecting a star-propelled thriller with the usual bob, weave and one-two punch, this isn’t your ticket. However, if you crave a film that has Clooney digging deeper into his craft, there’s payoff in this constrained drama with measured, if quiet, performances.”

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