The American Friend

The American Friend ★★★★½

Interesting watch after L.A. Confidential yesterday. That was a film full of great material presented simply, to thrill in the moment but not linger. This is the opposite - it envelops you slowly but surely, the strange mix of high arthouse and Highsmith plotting only getting stranger as it goes along.
The American Friend is a suspended chord of a film. Never being tied down, it takes the shape of a thriller and fills in the negative space, or as Ebert puts it, "toss[es] out the parts that would help it make sense". It doesn't make sense, but it does produce an unearthly atmosphere through some truly extraordinary cinematography and original music. In a sense it does build to a climax as your typical crime movie would, and throws in a couple of (excellent) set-pieces along the way; but Wenders plays his own instinctual slow jazz with the narrative, throwing in some disorientating match-cuts for good measure. It is a film of elision and ellipsis, and Dennis Hopper in a lovely Stetson: what more can you ask for?

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