Monday, July 18, 2011

The American Friend (Der Amerikanische Freund)

IMDB says... Not Rated, 1977, 125 minutes
Tom Ripley, who deals in forged art, suggests a picture framer he knows would make a good hit man.
The 73rd Virgin says... Hard to say why I liked it. Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper are very funny in several scenes, and the scene on the train is pretty much slapstick, but I never really believed Ganz, the picture framer, was dying. And we know so little about him, that it's hard to know why he slips so easily into the role of hitman.

The initial plot device of art forgery is quickly dropped for some kind of broad and ill-defined American mafia war. Perhaps we are supposed to see the irony that he is rigidly ethical about suspected art forgers but more flexible about killing people. And Ganz's wife is so inscrutable and blank and, well...German, that its almost a relief when they get into a slap fight.

I guess the movie feels intelligent and keeps you guessing, and there is some suspense, nice cinematography and very watchable actors. Be forewarned, most fans of the Tom Ripley novels hate this movie. Never read 'em. Don't care. Maybe I'm just a Wenders snob.

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