If Albert Camus was a film director then perhaps The American is a film that he would have made. In Anton Corbijn’s second feature he creates an inaction film which is about waiting and watching and being patient. George Clooney is very quiet in the film and at the beginning there is so much silence that you may think that something has gone wrong with the soundtrack, but it’s all part of the plan which is to create a world where you look and listen for the smallest detail. When Clooney first speaks it is surprising as I realized that he’d been silent for a long time.
The American focusses on the times between the action as Clooney waits and prepares for a job that he wants to be his last. He interacts with people in the small Italian village where he is in seclusion and we watch as he gets closer to those in the village without revealing much about himself always aware that people are looking for him. With large, open frames and precisely-composed shots it’s lovely to look at and with a few action sequences thrown in for seasoning it’s a different sort of film that reworks the action film as an visually poetic existential drama.