Director: Kevin Noland
In their decision to-- as one character surmises-- rethink whatever it is they think they thought by escaping the realities of student loans, the 9-5 grind, and obligations, three friends head to Spain for one last adventure following college graduation.
Hoping to participate in the Fiesta de San Fermin a.k.a. the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, Ryan (Timm Sharp), his girlfriend Michelle (Ruthanna Hopper), and their unofficial leader Chris (Joshua Jackson) find themselves all uniquely affected by their surprising foreign experiences and the intriguing characters they meet along the way such as a strange, Beat styled philosophizing club owner Riccardo (Ruthanna’s father Dennis Hopper) who advises Chris not to “fall for the con—the Ameri-con.”
Coming to grips with, as Ryan explains, the old adage that if you really want to get to know someone better, travel with them, his relationship with Michelle becomes strained both by his yearning for home and his preference to zone out with Vicodin and keep everything at an arm’s length. While those two seem to be nearing the conclusion of their relationship, artistic Chris, whose backpack is stolen at the start of the film, realizes that instead of material belongings, he’s discovered bliss in the simple, unhurried practice of wandering around, scribbling and sketching in his journal.
His love for his new way of life is infinitely deepened when he meets the gorgeous, aggressively confident and I daresay nearly macho fly-fishing actress Adela (Leonor Varela). Drawn to her insistence that bullfights are sensuous dances wherein the matador adorns feminine clothing to look as beautiful as possible before seducing and killing the bull, Chris finds himself seduced by her own tantalizing dance-like conversation and the two embark on a tentative friendship with developing flirtation as the film continues.
Despite too much screen time devoted to a highly bizarre and off-putting Dennis Hopper whose aimless character runs a club (aptly named Americano) which seems to be a twisted version of Moulin Rouge,the film Americano is an engaging and charming sleeper. Admittedly Hemingway purists will find the film’s frequent parallels to the author and his masterwork The Sun Also Rises wearing on their nerves rather quickly, yet writer/director Kevin Noland’s breathtakingly photographed and engaging 2005 film festival favorite (which was screened in Palm Springs, Seattle, Austin, Los Angeles, Vail, Milan, and Newport Beach) is well worth the investment.