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American Star


Stars: Ian McShane, Nora Arnezeder, Adam Nagaitis, Max Coleman, Fanny Ardant, Thomas Kretschmann, Whisper Biggins

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

Nicely made, nicely shot and nicely acted drama-cum-thriller, starring McShane (who also produced) who has his role completely nailed down here - that of Wilson, a veteran hit-man on a final assignment, which takes him to the Canary Island of Fuerteventura. The pace is leisurely at times, as befits the holiday feeling, although never slow.

On arrival at the target's vacation home, he finds the man has yet to arrive. Only soul there is the maid Gloria (Arnezeder), who's taking advantage of the swimming pool. Later he encounters her again, behind the bar of the hotel he's booked into, where he also meets a child, Max (Coleman), who kind of latches on to him, and listens to his stories of parachute jumping.

The free-spirited Gloria directs him to an old shipwreck, the American Star, which he fails to find until, on a later occasion, she takes him there. She introduces him to her equally free-spirited mother (the charming Ardant), who has been an estate agent (she says) on the island for 15 years. Even the introverted Wilson unwinds in their company.

To his annoyance, Wilson finds he is being tailed by his nephew Ryan (Nagaitis), who's in the same business. However, there's a mystery here too, and you have to figure out exactly what's going on. The answer may lie in Gloria's camera...

The film draws you into its characters and environment in a gentle but persuasive way until the tragedy and violence of an expletive- and corpse-filled final five minutes. There are rather a lot of 'driving along' shots here, it's true, but you could do a lot worse than pootle around the island with this taciturn old assassin. The '18' certificate seems a bit harsh.

David Quinlan

USA/Spain 2022. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour (unspecified).
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Feb 2024