movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

a legal bore

MICHAEL CLAYTON is the directorial debut from writer Tony Gilroy (the BOURNE Trilogy, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE). The ironic part about this is that the weakest part of this film is the script. MICHAEL CLAYTON is one of the best reviewed films of the year up to this point and I can see why. It tries to be so much. It tries to take a John Grisham type courtroom drama and make it more internal and character based. It tries to be subtle and complex in its portrayal of the lead character and the events that he navigates through. It tries to present a multi-layered villain that you can relate to on a certain level and not judge. The problem is… it fails.
Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is a “fixer” at one of the largest law firms in New York. What this means is that he is akin to Mister Wolf from PULP FICTION. He is not a litigator at the firm, but if one of them or their clients have a problem or find them self in an embarrassing situation, they call Clayton and he guides them. At least that is what we are told that he does. One of the many problems with this film is that we are told lots of things but never really get shown anything. The only glimpse that we are given into his job is in the beginning of the movie, he is called in at midnight to consult a client after a hit and run. The advice that he gives… “Call a lawyer”. Wow. What a genius! The other case that he is brought in on is the one involving Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), one of the firms star attorneys that has apparently gone insane while handling a multimillion dollar case and is risking sacrificing everything. You know what Clayton does… screws it up.
From here there is a little (but not much) effort put into developing a back-story of the case and the people involved. It is a large company that is being sued by an unspecified number of people that were hurt in some way by their product. I am vague because the movie is as well when it comes to things like a plot. The point of the movie becomes not the case, but the man that is involved with the man that was involved with that case. Yeah… so Clayton has nothing really to do throughout the film but run around for no reason and look into a case that he doesn’t care about and I didn’t care about because I never got to learn what it was about or how people were effected. But at least there is suspense, right? Nope.
All suspense or tension regarding Michael Clayton is lost because the movie starts with a failed assassination attempt on him and then flashes back to how he got there. By the time that the movie catches back up, we realize that he will never be in any real danger, eliminating any suspense from the entire movie. The one thing that tries and creates suspense is the films score, but while it is a very well done score, it comes across as forced and silly because the story that it is supposed to be complimenting is not at all exciting or suspenseful.
One thing that I really did enjoy in the film is the performances by George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton, all or who deliver strong and subtle performances. The problem is that they are handed very little with the script. Wilkinson gets to play bat shit crazy at one point and then comes across as a devilishly clever attorney a minute later. We never really buy into why he is doing anything that he is doing and we never get to spend enough time with him to care. Swinton is always good and she has some good pieces in this movie, but Gilroy’s attempt to make her real or sympathetic is to show her sitting on a toilet, sweating. Clooney is a really good actor and this is a great performance. It is a layered character full of intelligence and flaws, but there is simply nothing for him to do here in. There is nothing to fix after he makes a crucial mistake in judgment, so he is left to just walk around for no real reason. There is some unnecessary subplots thrown in regarding his drug addict brother and their failed business, but that seems to be there just to fill some time and distract from the fact that the plot of the movies was left behind in the first act.
This is not a terrible movie, but it is a slow and pointless one. For a movie that presents itself as clever, subtle and intelligent, there are far too many plot holes that kept me from ever becoming engaged. MICHAEL CLAYTON reminds me of a Grisham adaptation that focuses on a side character that has nothing to do with the actual plot. Because this person has nothing to do with the plot, that plot is ignored and we follow him as he walks around and has the occasional run in with someone that has something to do.


Anonymous download films said...

Thanks for reviews ! This is best reviews I ever read. I enjoyed it very much. I can't wait more for it. Going to watch film.

4:36 AM  

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