a sybarite in paradise
reviewing the food & entertainment pleasures of Honolulu
 
 
Michael Clayton is a good movie with strong performances from everyone involved. George Clooney plays the title character, a lawyer that is a “fixer” of problems that the rich and famous get themselves into. When one of his colleagues, played excellently by Tom Wilkinson, goes off his meds and causes problems, Michael Clayton is sent in to fix things up.
 
A chain of events and revelations make for interesting plot twists all throughout the movie. The plot isn’t particularly original, but it is fairly well written and that helps immensely. The cast and direction also lift the script from it’s predictability and lack of originality. Sydney Pollack plays Michael’s boss Marty. He’s a practical guy who’s not afraid of being on the somewhat immoral side of a lawsuit as long as his firm is still making money. In less competent hands this role wouldn’t have come across as sympathetic as it ultimately did. Everyone is in a bind in the film and so you feel bad for them all, including Tilda Swinton’s Karen Crowder.
 
Swinton’s deft portrayal of the bad guys’ lead council is mesmerizing. Karen can’t quite believe she’s in the position she’s in and has extreme anxiety about it. She has cataleptic episodes that show the inner turmoil she endures for the sake of her job.
 
O.K. I’m going to nit-pick for a minute here. Michael Clayton, the film, uses a device that in recent years has become way overused. It’s where the film starts at the end or somewhere in the last quarter of the film and then time rolls back to see how the character got here. Fine. My problem is when the rewound film catches up, Michael Clayton makes us endure the entire sequence (7-10 minutes), with bonus additions, all over again. The filmmaker had just shown me this scene an hour and some ago. I think I can remember what happened. It seems that the filmmaker thinks the audience is too stupid to remember the big explosion from just an hour ago. Come on. Stop relying on this cinematic crutch.
 
Michael Clayton is a good movie, just not a great one. It’s intelligent, interesting and forces the audiences to face the same moral dilemmas the characters do. Well worth seeing.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Michael Clayton