The American Friend (1977)

The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, The American Friend stars Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz with co-stars directors Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller. Jonathan Zimmerman (Bruno Ganz) has very rare blood disease, he is a frame craftsman with a wife and a son. When the information of his disease came to the ears of a crooked frenchman, Zimmerman is offered a very big amount of money to do a well oiled mob hit.

Like Wenders' other films I had the opportunity to watch (Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire), the images are beautiful and naturalistic. the rythm of the film is perfect and it lets all the time to the story to take its place. The acting of Ganz and Hopper is just right and their relationship based on surprising events is very strong.
Flimmaker Wim Wenders was amongst the three major directors who emerged from the German New Wave, with fellow compatriots Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog. Fasbinder was mostly influenced by Jean-Luc Godard's work of the 1960's while Herzog may be the most German of the three with his intense , if not, extreme filmmaking. Wenders who gave us many road movies is the most Americanized of the three. He had a strong friendship with Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller. Their films of the 1950's was his major influence.

The American Friend works on the hope that Zimmermann will receive the right diagnostic for his diseasse. It also confronts the modern man to the isolation of the disease.At some point the story of the improvised hitman gets us close to Alfred Hitchcock way of involving the viewer in the action of the killer to be in the sequence of the first murder in the subway station.

The photogrphy of The American Friend diserves a special mention with its crude warm colors only attained by films of its time like Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz are outstanding as the two friends who'll have to unite their efforts to eliminate the bad guys who wanted to use Zimmermann as their cheap hitman. They bring their characters to a level that only Hopper with his manic persona could have acheived and Ganz with his reclusiveness.

With The American Friend, Wim Wenders attainned one of the most beautiful film of his career and besides copying his mentors he uses their lessons to make a work of his own. A master acheivement.

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