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Critics Praise The American

Focus Features 09.01.2010

Here's a look at a selection of the early reviews of The American, which is released today.

The most important -- as ever -- is the notice from Roger Ebert, who gives The American four stars and immediately declares himself an unambiguous fan of Anton Corbijn's movie:

The American allows George Clooney to play a man as starkly defined as a samurai. His fatal flaw, as it must be for any samurai, is love. Other than that, the American is perfect: Sealed, impervious and expert, with a focus so narrow it is defined only by his skills and his master. Here is a gripping film with the focus of a Japanese drama, an impenetrable character to equal Alain Delon's in Le Samourai, by Jean-Pierre Melville. …There is not a wrong shot. Every performance is tightly controlled. Clooney is in complete command of his effect.

In the New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote the following:

Mr. Corbijn, a photographer who turned to filmmaking with Control, his moody and measured biography of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the Manchester post-punk band Joy Division, has an eye for natural beauty and a practiced sense of composition. Frame by frame — eagle-eye views of red-tile roofs and glimpses down narrow stone passageways; sex scenes and shots of Mr. Clooney glumly drinking coffee — The American is never less than gorgeous. And the oblique approach it takes to what is a fairly standard plot creates a mood of suspense quickened by the accelerated heartbeat of Herbert Grönemeyer’s unobtrusive music.

At the Showbiz 411 website, Roger Friedman also hands out high praise to Messrs Clooney and Corbijn:

The American…is a terrific, dark, semi-indie release. Clooney gives one of his best performances as a moody, nearly silent hit man who’s on the run in Italy from mysterious enemies. …I really thought Clooney’s work here puts him in line for an Oscar nomination … And Corbijn has made a movie I will recommend to anyone who asks over this Labor Day weekend: “What should we see?” See The American.

Finally, here's Joe Neumaier's glowing appraisal of Anton Corbijn's "grown-up thriller" in the New York Daily News:

The American, a movie as coiled as a snake and as still as a sleepy villa, is the rare grownup thriller that knows the link between peace and danger and the tension that comes from both.

The American is filled with an irresistible Old World, old-movie appeal. …Corbijn, a photographer-turned filmmaker (2007's Control), expertly rewinds us to the paranoid thrillers of the 1970s - with some Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene and stylish '60s cool thrown in. Like Julian Schnabel and Tom Ford, he's a filmmaker whose visual and narrative sense, honed in other art forms, fits perfectly with out-of-the-ordinary work.

Clooney, meanwhile, anchors the mix of contemplation and combat. He's always at his best when toggling unexpectedly between extremes – here, when urgency is required, he tacks toward watchful; when things seem mellow, he's on the verge of jumping out of his skin.