George Clooney stars in this confused, directionless and ultimately bland adaption of Martin Booth’s 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman.
Clooney plays an assassin on the run from some bad guys (or were they good guys? the film never says) who decides to go hide in one of those remote Italian villages where everyone’s immediately suspicious of strangers.
While he’s there he’s tasked by an associate to help a fellow assassin (Thekla Reuten) prepare for a mission. So now we have two very obvious strangers in this remote little village. In between testing rifles he finds time to fall in love with the local hooker – cue lots of unnecessary shots of Violante Placido’s breasts – and then, as you will have already guessed, the bad/good guys come looking for Clooney’s character.
But frankly you’re unlikely to care what happens to any of the characters because they’re little more than cliches with minimal levels of dialogue inhabiting a world of familiar-looking but disjointed scenes.
Style-wise the film constantly looks like it’s set in the 50’s or 60’s except the TVs and cars are modern. In a scene where Clooney and Reuten’s characters go on a picnic she’s dressed in what looks to be one of Faye Dunnaway’s cast-offs while Clooney insists on doing what one presumes is his impression of Steve McQueen or Paul Newman.
Except without the acting.
That McQueen/Newman feel is cemented by scenes such as one of Clooney driving along with the camera on the outside of the windscreen, lots of reflection on the glass and Clooney’s wristwatch and arm in the foreground.
It’s like someone’s watched Bullit one too many times.
And if you have no idea what I’m taking about here’s a helpful video from that vastly superior film:
It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to turn this nonsense into an ad 20 years from now.
Oh, on the plus side there are some great shots of the Italian countryside, stone cottages, wanderings through the village’s backstreets and enchanting music. In fact, you know those beautiful adverts for Stella and small European cars? That’s exactly what this film reminded me of.
I swear, had a “Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme” voiceover popped up over the final car sequence I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.
What the film lacks – apart from a plot – is any sense of logic. How can a village in the back end of nowhere with no street lights be lit up bright yellow and green at night? Why would an assassin hide in a village full of nosey parkers?
Make no mistake, this is a mess of a movie likely to please only devoted fans of Clooney.
The American opens in UK cinemas Friday November 26th
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