Movie Review: American Night – Review Hub

Screenwriter and Director: Alessio Della Valle

Running on adrenaline, Alessio Della Valle’s American night is an art-heist thriller that promises a lot.

The film is written and directed by Della Vale, with a star-studded cast including Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emile Hirsch and Jeremy Piven. American night explores the underside of the New York art world, focusing on outgoing mob boss Michael Rubino (Emile Hirsch). Passionate about contemporary art, Rubino is secretly an artist himself. When his father dies, Rubino wants his inheritance – Andy Warhol’s pink marilyn hung in the family home when he was a child. The painting, after years out of the country, is mailed back to New York.

Della Valle uses a series of narratives, switching characters’ points of view to reveal hidden corners of each story. We meet brothers John and Vincent (Rhys Meyers and Piven). John Kaplan is an art critic and future gallery owner. His career has seen better times (dubbed “The Rock Star of Contemporary Art”, in a flashback we see him giving a TED talk). The opening of his gallery is approaching and the debts are piling up, but he still supports his random stunt brother, who vacillates from job to job.

The fates of the Kaplans and the Rubinos intertwine, with art historian Sarah Flores (Paz Vega), as pink marilyn passes through several hands. The story unfolds at breakneck speed, and while details get lost in the narrative, the Warhol’s fate drives the narrative forward.

It’s a film of extremes – the action is furiously paced and the visuals are neon-lit and heady. Della Valle’s multi-narrative offers different approaches to art, including reflections on forgery, intrinsic value, and the shift in perspective that has accompanied recent BLM protests. Rhys Meyers’ art critic, however, thinks outside the box: dressed in black and bored. The film is intended to be progressive, but the female characters, for example, are either objects of desire or they make the coffee. It weighs down a film that could do better.

For all his star power, American night is a film in identity crisis. Half-thriller, half-noir, half-commentary on the world of contemporary art, American night spread too thinly. The tone oscillates between overly serious crime drama and broad comedic swaths delivered by Piven (the film’s best cast). As a result, we never really know where we are, and neither angle is convincing. Hirsch’s mob villain doesn’t get the necessary character development to make it plausible, and that’s a criticism that can be leveled at every character. When you have talents like Rhys Meyers and Hirsch struggling to achieve a consistent performance, it’s clear that American night needed a thorough editorial cleanup.

American night has ideas and knows what he means, but gets bogged down in semantics: a lighter touch would have done American night an intriguing prospect. As it stands, the film loads its brush too much and the concepts are stiff on the canvas.

American Night will be available for digital download from February 7.

The review hub score

Ambitious but heavy

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