August 17, 2010
George Clooney in "THE AMERICAN"
From acclaimed director Anton Corbijn (the Cannes-winningControl) comes the suspense thriller The American starring Academy Award winner George Clooney in the title role. Adapted from Martin Booth’s 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman, the film will be shown soon exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Trinoma, Glorietta 4 & Greenbelt 3).
In the film, Jack (Clooney) is an assassin constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, Jack retreats to the Italian countryside. He relishes being away from death for a spell as he holes up in a small medieval town. While there, Jack takes an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten).
Savoring the peaceful quietude he finds in the mountains of Abruzzo, Jack accepts the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful woman, Clara (Violante Placido). Jack and Clara’s time together evolves into a romance, one seemingly free of danger. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.
Following the success of his award-winning first feature, the drama Control -- the biopic of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis -- 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?”
The Western genre was a key inspiration to Corbijn in his formative years. 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.”
Screenwriter Rowan Joffe came to the material from several angles. He comments, “When they asked me to write The American, I was thrilled at the chance to adapt such a morally rich, visually arresting, and unusual novel.”
With Corbijn’s instruction to adapt it as a contemporary Western, Joffe simplified the overall structure into a character-motivated thriller with a streamlined plot, a powerful redemptive theme, very spare dialogue, and a wild Italian landscape that acts like a character in its own right, exerting its transformative, melancholy beauty on our hero and assisting him in his journey to redemption.
Joffe shares, “George Clooney’s interest in my first draft allowed me to continue refining subsequent drafts with him in mind; that was a considerable dramatic boon for the script as well as a rare opportunity to craft a character for one of the greatest movie actors alive.”
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