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The American Friend


“I know less and less about who I am, or who anybody else is.”



The international breakout of Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas, Perfect Days), The American Friend is a dreamlike take on Patricia Highsmith's antihero Tom Ripley. A chance encounter brings picture framer Jonathan Zimmerman (Bruno Ganz) into the orbit of art dealer/forger Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper), who decides on a whim to ruin the hapless German everyman's life. Leveraging Zimmerman's potentially terminal illness diagnosis, Ripley manipulates him into a dangerous criminal underworld voyage across Europe that becomes an existential search for meaning. Chaotic and at times transcendent, this thriller blends West German and American sensibilities to explore cultural imperialism and the stories it tells.

Why You Should See This Film

Legendary cinematographer and longtime Wenders collaborator Robby Müller (who also worked extensively with Jim Jarmusch) finds beauty and romance in the squalid backstreets of Hamburg, Paris and New York City, perfect for a filmic interpretation of Highsmith's deconstructed, character-driven take on the thriller genre. The mechanics of plot quickly fade into the background, with the focus on a strange evolving friendship between two very different men played by two actors with oppositional approaches— Hopper's impressionistic agent of chaos versus Ganz's tightly coiled and very repressed European sadsack. In a classically Wendersian quirk Wim decided to cast all the gangster roles in The American Friend with fellow directors, Gérard Blain, Samuel Fuller and Peter Lilienthal among others.

Wim Wenders
Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain, Nicholas Ray
125 minutes
German with English subtitles

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