The American Friend

The American Friend ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Fears that ironically make us who we are have the power to transform us. Man is more defined by his interaction with fear than what he fears. Jonathan fears the worsening of his illness, as much for its effect on his family as its effect on him. Minot capitalizes on this fear, and suddenly Jonathan is a new, criminal version of himself. Suddenly, but not unforeseeably, his new life becomes less about being there for his family and more about entertaining the darkness his whole situation has revealed to him. His relenting to the Bicycle Thief Effect sees him turning on the very wife he was trying to protect, one of the many tragedies in this beautifully bonkers film.

The American Friend is a patient thriller, sort of similar to Day of the Jackal, where we feel the precision of its intrigue just as much as the characters. The quick direction and editing that reinforce each scene in this relatively slowly paced film is a paradox that proves just how impactful an art form cinema can be. Every moment of this film is engrossing and I did not want it to end. Films where such different characters undergo an osmosis of each other's personalities are so interesting, and that definitely took this Neo noir to the next level.

Also, Marianne was an exceptional character. She elevated past the confining "doubtful wife" trope, leaving the sidelines to dominate the fore as the film drew to a close. That's what I'm talking about! Tell this lost man the truth before it's too late!

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