Saturday, February 9, 2008

Michael Clayton

DAN - Michael Clayton is a legal thriller from the mind of Tony Gilroy, writer of such films as the Bourne trilogy. Having been nominated for seven Oscars, the film was recently re-released in theaters. The title character, played by George Clooney, is an attorney who fixes situations that might damage his law firm. When one of his biggest clients seems to inexplicably lose his mind, Clayton searches for an answer. Unfortunately, there are other parties who would prefer that he doesn’t succeed.

I had fairly high hopes for this film, though I didn’t exactly know what to expect. Tony Gilroy had written some decent films in the past, but this was his first attempt at directing. I’m sure this film was a clever, tension-building tour de force, but to be honest, I had trouble keeping up with it.

The screenplay is choc full of legal terms and political dialogue that flew over my head. I was able to get the gist of the story, but the characters’ motives were lost in the details. I found myself trying so hard to understand the plot that I must have missed a few character introductions. The film features several scenes with Clayton’s siblings and his son, but I didn’t learn of his relation to them until after the movie ended.

The cinematography and musical score are somewhat bleak, creating a level of semi-realism that didn’t keep my interest. Even the acting is mostly low key, though Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton individually have some good scenes.

This is a film that requires intelligence and attention, but I didn’t find it worth the effort. I suppose it’s commendable that the director chose to take a non-blockbuster approach in making this film, but the result wasn’t entirely entertaining for me. However, if you like political thrillers (Syriana, The Constant Gardener), then this one is right up your alley.


STEVE - Being one of the five Oscar nominees for best picture and in the running for six others including a best actor, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress, I was very interested in seeing this work of cinema. It’s not every day that you find a movie up for seven Oscars, three of which are for performances, for which reason, I recommend this film to the viewer.

Best actor nominee George Clooney leads this terrific cast of performers as the “miracle worker” Michael Clayton. Though he prefers to think of himself to be more like a janitor, Clooney’s character is a lawyer who cleans up others messes, and does it very well. It’s the different layers that Clooney brings to the character that holds my interest throughout this film. Every time the man walks on screen he demands your attention in the most subtle of ways, and it’s when Clooney is acting with eleven year-old Austin Williams that he truly shines and we see the human side of Michael Clayton.

Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton also turn in memorable performances as they are up for the other two acting nominations. Also noteworthy of mention is already Oscar winner Sydney Pollack who gives a great performance as well and plays the role of Clooney’s superior.

Michael Clayton truly thrives in its performances; with a different cast I’m not sure the film would have been as well received. Though the script is also the cause for one of its many nominations, I wasn’t all to crazy about it. We really aren’t treading any new territory with this film as the story of loft business corruption has been done before. You are sufficiently lost for the fist third of the film, trying to piece together what exactly went wrong. If not for the well executed direction from scribe and director Tony Gilroy, and the many wonderful performances Michael Clayton could have been a very unnoticeable film.

1 comment:

fishbowl said...

Review "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Or else.