The American

Father Benedetto: [speaking to Jack] “You cannot deny the existence of hell. You live in it. It is a place without love”. And so the viewer gets a front row view of this place for 106 minutes. The self-fulfilling prophesy of a soul-less slow burn, devoid of human emotion. What the scenario looks like at the end of the line.

Jack is approaching the end of his career in an unspecified malevolent endeavor and the sum total of his life experience is vociferous paranoia and survival as a full time endeavor. The ultimate terminus of his life is distilled into the skill of detection and avoidance of danger. George Clooney meticulously plays Jack as cold and aloof but between the sparse lines uses his talent to convey Jack’s complex emotions.

Jack is a creature of the environment he has created, and finds himself running through the maze with the same laconic expectations of doom he has lived. An existential crisis as he feels death closing but is unable to identify the threat. In the end Jack there arises an unexpected potential redemption, fleetingly brief, and both the viewer and the subject know under the façade it isn’t to be. There can be no redemption for those without a soul.

Beautifully filmed in Italy, the characters are magnificent, Clooney is always outstanding but ultimately this film doesn’t satisfy. Although interesting, Jack repels the viewer who wants nothing to do with him. The plot is predictable. The character is too distant and leaves the audience with too little pathos. Ultimately the audience refuses to be drawn into it, observing from a safe distance that obviates identification with the character.

Wait till it hits HBO and watch it for Clooney’s talent, only if there are no guns or knives in the house.

It gets only two of five stern frowns.

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