George Clooney co-produces with a vision of creating a character different from the type he usually plays, so kudos to him. Silent and staring, his Jack is the anti-George; almost comically so, at moments -- you keep expecting him to crack a joke. Jack is intentionally brooding and solitary but Clooney not talking is a waste of natural resources, like Harrison Ford sitting on his hands -- like the similarly petite Scarlett Johansson, George Clooney is his speaking voice. While the actor's star power frees him to experiment with his performance the production is riddled with the same defensive, let's-underline-this-for-thick-people moments that compromised Up In The Air. I would applaud Rowan Joffe's supermodel-skinny script if the lines that are in it were not so clunky. It's redundant to have someone saying 'Remember last time we spoke?' in reference to a scene which was the last time anyone in the movie said anything.
The movie only gets going in the last few minutes -- or Act as it's signalled -- when Jack dies and George finally comes alive. (If you think that's a spoiler then also be warned that Christmas falls in December.) My favourite sequence, and the most memorable, is the tension-filled exchange of wares in a modern roadside café when Jack meets the person he knows is stalking him. He knows, she knows, we know, but then we don't. Everything is wonderfully quiet, and for a short time The American becomes the terse, godless stand-off it aimed to be - until Joffe's dialogue interrupts, crashing in with a nod and a wink nobody needed. Such a quiet movie: if only it would shut up.