There are few films I consider “perfect,” but some come close: The Fountain, Chunking Express, Oldboy, There Will be Blood, etc.
Is The American perfect? Objectively, not a chance. But for the audience of one, me, it remains difficult to pin down anything I didn’t like about the film.
It is brilliantly paced. I wholeheartedly enjoyed not being distracted by extraneous dialogue, which gave me the opportunity to study each scene meticulously. Every single shot, word, musical note, etc. is never unnecessary. The film rewards attention. It not only rewards attention but demands it. Let it take you in.
The cast: amazing. Clooney, phenomenal. Violante Placido, perfect. The rest, outstanding.
Various platitudes aside, this film is not for everyone. It requires the correct frame of mind. If I impart one thing to you it is to prepare your mind beforehand. Do not expect an action film or a thriller. It is a character study of a mysterious man on a “last job.” Soak in the process he takes. Admire the beautiful Italian landscape.
I recommend pairing it with cup of Italian roast coffee—perhaps a French press full. Any “cool” drink is also acceptable, e.g., dry Martini. But do not overindulge, for The American requires your full attention.