"It's endangered," says Mr. Butterfly of the butterfly landed on Mathilde. This scene sums up the whole film for me. Exquisite production, beautiful landscapes, patient and assured execution of plot. We've seen this story before, but Anton Corbijn brings such grace to the proceedings, that I forgive him for it. And George Clooney has never been better.
I love George Clooney, but not all his movies. He too often does not meet my requirements. But forget it; "The American" does. I guess, I have watched this 10 times. Still good, very good. Everytime I see more details I was not aware of before. Anton Corbijn got his share, for sure. All characters are wonderfully performed; in every detail. Great movie.
The ending troubled me, in its hackneyed use of the butterfly metaphor, but the preceding hour and a bit was a fairly masterful character study. As Cinemaray noted, Clooney's take on the assassin is definitely hinting at something like the great Melville's Le Samourai, a stoic and restrained free operator in the world of organised death.
The achievement in editing, composition and colour is astonishing. The somber idea that a craftsman who doesn't question the morality of his work is only making his own destruction, is very interesting. As if the photographer director questions the humanity of his craft.
Imagine Antonioni's "L'Avventura" without the suspense, the innovations, the tempo (or beautiful lack thereof), or, indeed, anything interesting, and you have this film. Clooney is a fair actor, but this is just void. I usually like films with a bit of space in them, but this is really just void and null. Avoid. Go for Corbijn's "Control" instead if you need his films.
Not groundbreaking but different in respect to Corbijn's style (still haven't seen "Control" yet) and Clooney's treatment of the assassin in a fashion more believable whilst still interesting, one that mutely exudes dread and alienation. The ending could've been done differently, which would've capped the film off better I think.