September 11, 2010

The American: George Clooney


The suspense thriller The American stars Academy Award winner George Clooney in the title role for director Anton Corbijn (Control). The screenplay by Rowan Joffe is adapted from Martin Booth’s 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman. The American is exclusively shown at Ayala Malls Cinemas -- Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma.

As an assassin, Jack (played by Mr. Clooney) is 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.


A Focus Features presentation of a This is that/Greenlit/Smokehouse production. An Anton Corbijn Film. George Clooney. The American. Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli. Casting by Beatrice Kruger. Costume Designer, Suttirat Anne Larlarb. Music by Herbert Grönemeyer. Editor, Andrew Hulme. Production Designer, Mark Digby. Director of Photography, Martin Ruhe. Executive Producer, Enzo Sisti. Produced by Anne Carey, Jill Green, Ann Wingate, Grant Heslov, George Clooney. Based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth. Screenplay by Rowan Joffe. Directed by Anton Corbijn. A Focus
Features Release.

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.”

Wingate recalls, “I had started working on getting the book made into a movie back in the 1990s, with BBC Films. They had let it drop, and later Jill and I had been working together and I suggested reviving the project. I’d always been drawn to the love story for the lead character, a man who has had enough of escaping his life yet seeks to escape what he is.”

Green elaborates, “What also attracted us to the book was the insight into this character as a solitary figure who wants to find romance and redemption, despite his escalating inner turmoil. To have a lead character who is both an expert gun maker and assassin put me in mind of The Day of the Jackal, which also was adapted from a novel. At the time, Martin Booth was still alive, and he insisted on English/European producers for the movie from his book. So that was Ann and me.

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