Dutch director Anton Corbijn makes beautiful people and places look, well, beautiful.
Corbijn hasn’t an idea in his head, but he knows how to make ancient cobblestone stairways look blitheringly atmospheric. He knows how to show off buck naked actors, and their assets, to voyeuristic perfection.
He knows how to photograph George Clooney’s best angles. (And yes, there are quite a few of those.)
But he really has no clue as to how to create an absorbing cinematic experience. Pity really.
So much to work with, so little point.
The American is a non-film disguised as a postmodern existential (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron) thriller. There’s no pulse here.
Just one more glimpse of this or that bit of flesh. One more shot of Clooney, a weary hit-man on the eve of retirement, sitting in a spare apartment in Italy’s rugged Abruzza district, rubbing his temples in an effort to appear deeply, profoundly, psychologically anxious. It doesn’t work. We know it’s just a gorgeous actor rubbing his temples, while the camera examines his dark brows and the rich textures of the wall behind his head.