“American Night” is written and directed by Alessio Della Valle. This one delivers a little bit of comedy, some romance, some action, and a moderate amount of suspense, and tension. All set to a stylish neo-noir backdrop. It has its pro’s and its cons for me, so let’s dive into it.
This movie stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an art-dealer who moonlights as a forger. He’s opening a gallery and when a highly coveted Andy Warhol painting surfaces, he sets his sights on it. However, this painting also catches the eye of a mobster with a love of art played by Emile Hirsch. And what ensues over the course of this wild ‘American’ night is an adventure filled with eccentric characters, shady double-crosses, seduction, violence, spots of levity, and plenty of vibrant stylizing from Della Valle, as these two characters do whatever it takes to acquire this painting.
Overall, I did have a good time with this one in places. But it does have its flaws. This story is told in three sections with some overlapping here and there to tie it all together. It’s slightly Tarantino-esque but not as well-crafted. This does work to build modest moments of curiosity as these characters navigate this seedy, but wealthy underworld of high value art and organized-crime.
However, it also leads to a beefy run-time, a choppy progression, and underdeveloped characters. This one clocks in at just over two-hours, and it does get fatiguing in spots. I think the story could’ve been tightened up. I think some of the technical ambition could have been dialed back a bit and with twenty-minutes shaved off, and more continuity added to the writing, it would’ve given the plot-progression a quicker pace to let the suspense kick in more effectively.
Instead, these spots were undercut by the slower sections where it doesn’t feel like the plot is moving forward or developing the players involved. I think this also makes the progression a bit more convoluted than it needed to be. It feels like a blend of the wealthy arrogance found in say “Velvet Buzzsaw”, cut with a mobster movie, topped with splashes of shoot ’em up action, sprinkled with the dark humor of something like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, and it is as messy as it sounds. But it was unique at times and surprisingly enjoyable for the eccentric frenzy it was.
The performances are all capable for the needs of their roles. Rhys Meyers and Hirsch fill out their characters nicely. A few other familiar faces, some from Hollywood’s past like Michael Madsen pop in as well to bring life to the supporting characters. And like I said, it was longer than needed but it does take you on a ride filled with a collection of wild characters and vibrant tonal shifts.
There were spots of clever dialogue that brought some grins. The gun-play kicks in with a self-awareness that really makes it pop. It gets bloody and elegant all at the same time and I had fun with the sporadic tones, and noir atmosphere this one delivers. The hyper-reality was tuned-in just right to create a fun escape into a violent world of maniacal villains, art, sex, and gun-fights. I can appreciate the creativity put on display here. It does borrow a lot of elements. Many of them in fact. But it molds it all into a fresh structure that may have been a little long-winded, but one that can deliver some fun if the trailer appeals to you.
Anthony J Digioia II – The SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved.