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Cinemas - Also Released - 25/11/10

THE AMERICAN (15)

BASED on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, director Anton Corbijn’s follow-up to the award-winning Ian Curtis biopic Control is a meticulously crafted portrait of a man of violence trying to escape his grim fate.

Predictably, the anti-hero can only outrun the past for so long before it catches up with him and demands bloodthirsty redemption.

George Clooney is on screen for almost every single frame in the title role, his face etched with weariness as an assassin who has grown tired of always looking over his shoulder.

Without the star power of its leading man, The American would struggle to find an audience outside of the arthouse circuit.

It’s an unremittingly bleak and slow-burning study of solitude, epitomised by a remarkable and protracted sequence in which the titular character drives towards the white light at the end of a long tunnel.

Corbijn refuses to cut away from inside the car as the white light expands, illuminating the driver until the entire screen is filled with blinding white.

Following a bungled assassination attempt in Sweden, hit man Jack (George Clooney) decides to abandon the killing game once and for all.

He telephones handler Pavel (Johan Leysen), who suggests that Jack should lay low in the Italian town of Castelvecchio.

“Don’t talk to anyone and above all, don’t make any friends. You used to know that,” scolds Pavel.

STAR RATING: ***

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