There’s always a risk balancing style over substance in films such as American Night, and sadly there is a lack of substance but a lot of style. The world of art and crime fuse into a complex and intricate plot of deception and seduction. The industry and celebration of art is a nice plot point for a film, featuring many works of art by the likes of Andy Warhol, Mario Schifano and Jeff Koons that our characters revolve around. It’s just not enough to warrant a 2hr run time with a very slow narrative to get things moving.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is John Kaplan, an art forger and swindler, and Jeremy Piven is his friend Vincent who wants to be a film-start and stuntman. Meyers and Piven make a great team together, a few tongue in cheek moments that work well in their quest to retrieve stolen art and stay alive when hitmen are hot on their heels. Meyers himself has lent his skill as an intense actor to many recent films, and here there is no question he has the requirements needed to show Kaplan’s desire to survive in a dangerous world and simply stay ahead of those out to get him.
Emile Hirsch hams it up as the villainous mob boss Don Michael Rubino, chewing his scenes and his script one step away from being a Bond villain as he seeks stolen art and taking out those responsible for swindling him. With fair support from the likes of Paz Vega and Fortunato Cerlino, the characters are decent enough but just don’t have enough originality in them to help them be memorable. And that’s, sadly, one of the main downfalls for American Night – the character development and script.
Italian director and writer Alessio Della Valle focuses more on the art world our film revolves around, trying to evoke the structure and style of Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez, playing with the narrative flow and embracing colour and light to speak when script doesn’t. Because of this, it’s hard to get to really care or know about our characters bar elaborate introductions that never really gel. Things take too long to pick up pace, and even with an opening action scene that isn’t afraid to pull punches with glam violence and gore, it’s not enough to engage you as a viewer.
It’s a shame because the desire to do something stylish is there, embracing the art world to add a new slant to the crime / thriller genre, but sadly this does nothing new or engaging enough to warrant it being entertaining. Even with a decent cast on hand, there is little chemistry between most of the players to help the story flow over an over-long run time.
American Night is available now