The American

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 December, 2010, 12:00am

The American
by Martin Booth
Bantam, HK$104

When George Clooney chooses your novel for his latest vehicle, your publishers had better cash in. So they have, changing Martin Booth's original title (the Le Carr?esque A Very Private Gentleman) to the cod-profound movie version. Booth's mix of gravitas and action is a perfect fit for Clooney's highbrow aspirations. Clooney plays Mr Farfalla. On the surface, he seems a private, lonely and fastidious man: he studies butterflies of all things. Except that he doesn't. Farfalla is a gun for hire who makes his own guns. It goes without saying that he considers himself an artist: 'I should perhaps have been a poet, one of the unacknowledged legislators of the world.' When he is not quoting Shelley, Farfalla spends his time being world weary, soul sick and desperate to retire. Then everything goes wrong. Personally, I found him tedious, unoriginal and pretentious: 'High in these mountains, the Apennines, the spinal cord of Italy, with its vertebrae of infant stone to which the tendons of the Old World are attached, there is a small cave...' Oh, shut up already. I thought he was a killer not a teenage boy. If you want a great assassin movie, see Grosse Pointe Blank or Le Samourai instead