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  American Night Famous For Two Hours, At Least
Year: 2021
Director: Alessio Della Valle
Stars: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emile Hirsch, Paz Vega, Jeremy Piven, Fortunato Cerlino, Michael Madsen, Alba Amira, Anastascia, Annabelle Belmondo, Mara Lane, Lee Levi, Marco Leonardi, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Dimo Alexiev, Harry Anichkin, Paudge Behan
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A syndicate have bought the famous art print Pink Marilyn by Andy Warhol, a screen print of the film star Marilyn Monroe, but now it is a matter of getting it to the rightful owner, especially when it is such an expensive item. For some reason, rather than send it by an official courier service, the gallery send it by a low rent gangster called Shakey (Fortunato Cerlino) who carries it rolled up in a cardboard tube: possibly this is down to the object being valuable and other syndicates seeking to appropriate it for themselves. However, this has served to complicate matters as the syndicates who want the print are gangsters too, and will have no qualms about murdering anyone who gets in their way when it comes to getting their hands on Marilyn...

Did the Italians love Quentin Tarantino as much the Americans and Brits? On this evidence, there was certainly some affection for the divisive filmmaker, and one supposed there was an Italian connection there, which explains why the bar featured at the beginning of this film was a lift from the one in Pulp Fiction, complete with staff dressed as celebrities like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin (it's a rock star variant). Yet as it progressed, it became clear the real debt writer and director Alessio Della Valle owed was to Guy Ritchie, what with the captions and cartoonish accoutrements presenting his characters, as well as a crime thriller plot that lent on the convoluted angle in much the same manner as the British director's better liked movies.

That said, maybe Ritchie was more keen on the laddish comedy, as any humour here was more channelled into a general eccentricity that made the characters colourful, all right, but did not make you laugh very much. Or at all. Emile Hirsch played the chief bad guy, a youngish crime boss who has been making attempts to take over the gangland in the New York area and has a deep appreciation for art as something that gives life meaning, therefore worth precisely as much as anyone rich is willing to pay for it. Meanwhile Jonathan Rhys Meyers was his co-star, an art critic whose dream it has been to open his own gallery and has been an advisor for the art world and business world alike to judge how much to pay for the art they're interested in, as well as taking a cut of any profits he has contributed to. These two are about to clash.

Actually, everyone is about to clash, but there was a desultory mood to American Night (named, kiddingly or pretentiously, after an English translation of Fran├žois Truffaut's Day for Night). This meant it meandered along from supposedly sellable setpieces and details intended to make it distinctive, but in effect it created a gloop of a story that was both hard to follow and harder to care about. The women were largely there as trophies and/or to be murdered or at least seriously injured to rouse the men out of their self-destructive stupor, as well as provide the occasional flash of nudity for the sex scenes, the paint-smeared one being the most memorable, though emblematic of the film's deadpan but daft approach to why art makes life worth living, It was building to an action-packed finale, yet when you know that finale took two hours to arrive, you could be forgiven for growing restless as Meyers and Hirsch work out their angst, and an extended cameo from Michael Madsen contributes nothing but oddness. Which summed this up: odd, sprawling, but not particularly engrossing. Music by Marco Beltrami.

[American Night will be available on Digital Download from 7th February 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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