The American kept me in the dark, never giving an explanation for what exactly what was going on. For the most part that's fun. I felt like a genius detective, dissecting each conversation and action to find what this story is about. The story itself isn't so complex that the lack of exposition hurts it. Actually, I would have liked a more complex story, or a new twist. It's impossible for me to tell if it's my fault my fault or the story's. Perhaps I didn't dig deep enough or I lack some crucial experience that is the key stone to identifying and understanding the main character (Jack, George Clooney). Though the story did drag for a while and I could only read so much and so many times into a man drinking espresso.
I think it boiled down to an assassin being lonely. Though I'm leery of calling Jack an assassin as he just makes the gun for his client. But in the opening scene he was quite skilled with his pistol, so he doesn't completely lack a body count. I wondered why assassins have to socially estranged. During the numerous quiet scenes in the film, one is free to pursue all manner of stray questions. Jack is told by his handler (I thought he was) that he should never have friends. Sure sure, he could be found out and arrested, or few people would be comfortable knowing an assassin but maybe there's a way. And then the film shows that way when Jack becomes friends with a prostitute; Clara. And despite their respective backgrounds the relationship is pretty normal if hesitant. Understandable. This is the part that's the most fun to watch. Jack seems like an awkward loner going after the gorgeous woman. Neither talks about what their "career" is and expect the other not to ask. Perfect, it puts them on equal footing but with that thought constantly at the back of one's mind it adds a spice to the courting. These two honest-to-god interesting people getting to know each other. Not the 2-D fashion slaves that comprise the totality of romance movies. Good people. By films end I saw prostitution and assassination as just another job, and was upset everyone (real world and their world) discriminated against them. In fact, I'd be happy to know either or both and count myself fortunate for the experience. Of course it helped that Jack only killed in self-defense and only made the weapon, and also that Clara was gorgeous and didn't engage in raunchy, anything goes anywhere sex. Everything was kept very classy. Easy to get lost in a world where even the "deplorables" are decent people.
But I was left unsatisfied by film's end. It was enjoyable and thought provoking but not to any especially strong degree. It does drag in places. But I don't regret seeing it. I'm not sure if the length if important in creating the right tone and influencing the mind-set of the audience but a shorter film would make me think much better of it. It's one of those stories where your own frustration with it seems to be what it wants from you, to turn that around and say "now you are the main character". Can't help but applaud when one is manipulated so well.