American Night

The world of art and the underworld of the mob; both require the right connections to become established and stay on top, but while one the difficulty is getting a foot in the door, from the other the challenge becomes getting out. His father having recently died, Michael Rubino is told by the elders of the extended family that he will be accepted as the heir, but only on one condition: that he gives up his aspirations to become an artist.

Ironically, while he despised modern art and disparaged the efforts of his son, Michael’s father was among his other interests an investor in famous and valuable works which Michael had believed he would inherit, among them Andy Warhol’s “Pink Marilyn,” currently in transit via an unreliable courier to the Dead Rockstars’ Diner in New York where Kurt Cobain tends the bar and John Lennon is the doorman, a secret rendezvous known to too many interested and well-armed parties.

Written and directed by Alessio Della Valle, American Night may be set in New York but it was principally filmed in Europe and carries the mood of a European arthouse thriller, the characters moving between offices, apartments and nightclubs grandly furnished and decorated and fabulously lit, moving in the spaces between the paintings and sculptures which drive their ambitions and dominate their passions.

“A mirror can show you your face,” states Michael Rubino (Freaks’ Emile Hirsch), “Art can show you your soul,” but with the expectation of the Family that he should wield power with a gun rather than a paintbrush he is torn, Jackson Pollock with anger issues and a machine gun, as is John Kaplan (Dracula‘s Jonathan Rhys Meyers), trying to reinvent himself as a legitimate art dealer when his reputation is that of a forger, his relationship with art restorer Sarah Flores (The OA‘s Paz Vega) under strain because of it.

The city a labyrinth of shadows in which John is already lost, American Night is peppered with moments which glitter via the parade of eccentric characters, Jeremy Piven’s unemployed stuntman Vincent who is convinced he can access the skills of a ninja when blindfolded, Fortunato Cerlino’s narcoleptic courier, Janis Joplin serving drinks while Jimi Hendrix packs heat as well as serving huevos rancheros, but subtitled A Tale in Three Parts it is a triptych which fails to sustain interest, unfinished as caper, heist or drama.

Art and life a story within a story, both sides of the game are filled with cheats and fools but with unclear alliances and motivations and the Kaplan Gallery blowing up for reasons never explored – was it a botched murder attempt, to frame John for an insurance scam or simply for the hell of it? – the overall impression is of stylish execution and technique masking a subject which can safely be regarded as a lesser example within the movement.

American Night is available on Digital Download now



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