The American Friend

The American Friend ★★★★

Not watching the Oscars. Fuck the Oscars.

Instead I decided to spend some time in the Wonderful World of Wenders. Apparently I gave this film a six the first time I saw it, and I don’t know why. I guess I was young and expecting a traditional thriller at the time. This is definitely one of the most unconventional neo-noirs out there, focusing intensely more on character than on plot. Its story, while definitely a bit messy and somewhat confusing at times, still manages to be extremely engaging mainly due to the mixture of Dennis Hopper’s almost effortless on screen charisma, with Bruno Ganz’s quiet and empathetic stoicism, and Robby Müller‘s perfect photography, showcasing the grey and grainy streets of Hamburg and Paris coated in a fine neon drip (eye-popping reds and greens galore!). On a purely technical scale, this is easily one of Wenders best looking films. It’s hard for me to say what I love more when it comes to Wenders/Müller collabs - the colorful eye candy of stuff like this or Until the End of the World or the pristine black and white photography of Kings of the Road or Alice in the Cities. All I know is that Müller is probably my favorite cinematographer of all time. 

Two main notes:

1) I just love how sloppy the murders are in this film, just adding to its unconventional nature. They manage to be even more suspenseful this way.

2) The director cameos are amazing. Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Jean Eustache, Gérard Blain...but especially Nicholas Ray. I mean how cool was he?? I’d kill to be in a room with him, Wenders and a babyfaced Jim Jarmusch at the end of the 70s.

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