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Jack (George Clooney), an American assassin, is relaxing in a remote cabin at Dalarna, Sweden with his lover, Ingrid (Irina Björklund). The two decide to take a walk on the frozen lake nearby. While walking, Ingrid notices some footprints. Jack immediately becomes suspicious and quickly drags Ingrid to cover behind a large boulder as someone begins shooting at them. Jack kills the shooter and then tells Ingrid to return to the cabin and phone the police while he searches the body. As she rushes past him, he shoots her in the back of the head. Jack suspects there may be another shooter and goes in search of him. He comes up behind another armed man and kills him.
Jack travels to Rome, Italy where he contacts a man named Pavel (Johan Leysen). Pavel is the person who provides Jack with his assignments. They don’t typically meet in person. Pavel insists that Jack cannot stay in Rome and sends him to Castelvecchio, a small town in the mountains of Abruzzo. Jack arrives in Castelvecchio and immediately feels uncomfortable, so he drives down the road to, Castel del Monte, throwing the phone Pavel had given him out of the car window on the way.
While he is hiding out in Castel del Monte, Jack is befriended by an elderly priest, Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli), who senses that Jack is not who he claims to be and is struggling to find his way. The father pressures Jack to seek absolution, something which Jack, now going by the name ‘Edward’ and posing as a photographer, resists.
Jack contacts Pavel, who offers him another job, a job that won’t require him to kill anyone. Jack eventually decides to take the job and meets with a shady Belgian, named Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), who wants him to build a compact gun with the firing capacity of a submachine gun and the accuracy of a rifle. Jack begins work on the weapon as he begins patronizing a local prostitute, named Clara (Violante Placido). At the same time, Jack realizes that he is being followed by a young Swedish man (Samuli Vauramo) who is probably associated with the people who tried to kill him at Dalarna.
One day, Jack meets with Mathilde to test the weapon he has made in the nearby forest. She asks for a few more alterations to it, as well as some special ammunition. While having coffee one day, Clara and a friend, named Anna (Anna Foglietta), see him and come inside to say hello. Clara invites Jack on an actual date, and the two begin to deepen their relationship.
One night, as the Swedish assassin follows him, Jack manages to get himself into position for an ambush, but just when he is about to shoot the man from behind, one of his neighbors who rides a Vespa scooter, comes speeding along, alerting the assassin who fires, missing Jack but killing the man on the scooter. Jack takes the scooter and chases after the Swede, who has jumped into his car and sped off. Jack shoots at the Swede, breaking out the back window of the car, then a front tire. The car crashes. Jack has to lay down the scooter to avoid crashing into the car, then gets up and runs to the driver’s window, smashing it out with his elbow. He reaches in and grabs the Swede, pulling him partway out of the window, then twisting and breaking his neck.
The American is a 2010 American thriller film directed by Anton Corbijn and starring George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido, Irina Björklund, and Paolo Bonacelli. The Rowan Joffé screenplay is an adaptation of the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth. The film opened on September 1, 2010.
The film grossed US$13.1 million, opening at number 1, ahead of Machete, which grossed US$11.4 million on the Labor Day weekend. The American grossed a total of US$67,876,281 worldwide—US$35,606,376 in North America and US$32,269,905 in other territories.
About the Production
Following the success of his award—winning first feature, the drama Control, director Anton Corbijn was deliberately looking to work on a new film centering on as different material as possible. He reveals, “I started reading thriller scripts. The theme of The American, of a loner trying to find redemption from the deeds he’s done, interested me as did the tension and the romance in the story. Here was something I saw could be not only suspenseful but also thoughtful.
“My career for over 35 years has been as a portrait photographer; filmmaking is a new adventure for me. I’m still finding my voice. I feel that where The American does parallel Control is in the idea of trying to change one’s life; how can you maybe make good after doing wrong? Can you overcome things that might be in you which define you?”
Music – both motivator and subject in Control was a key inspiration to Corbijn in his formative years. A certain genre of movie was as well; he remembers, “I haven’t seen all that many movies in my life, but Westerns have long made an impression on me, starting with in childhood – Rawhide [the 1960s TV series starring Clint Eastwood]. The look, the stories, the morality of movie Westerns always attracted me. Although The American is not actually a Western, it is structured in that genre; a stranger comes to a small town and connects with a couple of the people in it, but his past catches up with him and there is a shootout.”
Producer Anne Carey concurs, noting that in The American, as in Westerns, “there is a man who has lived by the gun, and the violence that he’s lived by threatens to infect the peace that he’s tried to find in a place that he thinks he could live in.
“I read Martin Booth’s novel A Very Private Gentleman over a decade ago, and immediately thought that it could be a sexy and entertaining genre piece with a complex and interesting lead role. [Producers] Ann Wingate and Jill Green were simultaneously closing on the rights. We decided that, rather than compete against one another, we would join forces and make the picture together.”
Continue Reading and View the Theatrical Trailer
The American (2010)
Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Starring: George Clooney, Bruce Altman, Thekla Reuten, Irina Björklund, Violante Placido, Lars Hjelm, Paolo Bonacelli, Giorgio Gobbi, Thekla Reuten, Silvana Bosi, Samuel Vauramo
Production Design by: Mark Digby
Cinematography by: Martin Ruhe
Film Editing by: Andrew Hulme
Costume Design by: Suttirat Anne
Set Decoration by: Michelle Day
Art Direction by: Denis Schnegg, Domenico Sica, Mikael Varhelyi
Music by: Herbert Grönemeyer
Screenplay by: Martin Booth, Rowan Joffe
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual content and nudity.
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release Date: September 3, 2010