a deceptively simple moment with some unconventional touches in anton corbijn’s ‘the american’. in this scene, clooney’s character jack gets a veiled threat in the form of a newspaper clipping.
1. close-up of clooney looking at the clipping.
2. insert of the clipping.
3. clooney’s close-up again, focused on the empty car outside. rack to clooney as he turns away from us.
4. reverse of clooney through the window. he turns away from us again.
5. back to clooney’s original closeup.
6. wide of clooney in the restaurant, alone.
so what’s special about this? conventional storytelling would dictate a rack focus from clooney to the car, but corbijn switches up the order. the shot tells us that the assassin left his vehicle, and by rack focusing from the car to clooney, we learn this information just before clooney does. we jump to the other side of the window to see his reaction, and then jump back again to see him compose himself briefly, deciding whether to leave. jumping out to the wide, crammed in the corner of the frame, his paranoia amplifies, and he makes the decision to leave.