The American (2010)
Anton Corbijn, the brilliant Dutch photographer, music video director and creative mind behind much of U2's and Depeche Mode's visual output during the past two decades, took the plunge to feature film making with Control in 2007. This biopic about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis earned the Dutchman rave reviews, but his second film, The American, is a far bigger test. This time he is directing a Hollywood superstar and making a film without the safety-net which his knowledge of the music business provided him with Control. This time, Anton Corbijn is exposed.
And although Corbijn again demonstrates his talent for compositions and choice of locations, he also reveals that he hasn't got full command of all facets of the craft of filmmaking yet. The clumsy editing and inhibited storytelling drains the life out of this potentially interesting story of a disillusioned assassin who goes into hibernation in a sleeping Italian village. Corbijn's lack of experience with actors also becomes apparent; the performances feel stiff, and only an experienced George Clooney on autopilot saves the film in a lacking middle part. In the end, we understand that the denouement is quite clever, and the film does retain a nerve, but the story is told as if by a deaf-mute; an indistinct grumble from which you must guess your way to the essence.