Jack (George Clooney) specializes in creating custom-made guns for assassins. After narrowly escaping from the bad guys in Sweden (and having to kill his girlfriend in the process), he goes to Italy for his next job.
Posing as a travel photographer, Jack meets an insightful priest and falls in love with a prostitute, Clara, all while discretely manufacturing a long-range rifle for his next client. While they notice he has a secret (they have secrets, too) they never suspect his real occupation.
(Or do they?)
Their kindness pricks his conscience and he starts to imagine a life beyond the next job, a life where he’s no longer an accomplice to murder. But there’s a high price for walking away.
There’s a lot “‘The American”’ leaves for you to decide. It’s more a character study than an action movie, and it’s powerful in what it leaves unsaid.
Set in the hills of Tuscany, the quiet, shadowy streets of the mountain town amplifies Jack’s inner turmoil, while the river he visits with Clara signifies the peace of the life he starts to imagine with her.
What are we willing to do for a new life? Is it possible to walk away and begin again?
The film is the style of spy movies in the 70’s: there’s a melancholy tone behind the subtlety of the dialogue and, the beauty of the scenery.
Clooney said the producers purposefully kept the budget small to allow more creative freedom. It was well worth it. Not only does it keep you wondering how it will end, but long after it’s over I found myself going over the plot again. What did they know, and when did they know it?
Great acting, great suspense and, definitely worth seeing!