Monday, August 1, 2011

Michael Clayton (2007)

"I'm not the guy you kill - I'm the guy you buy!"
- Michael Clayton, a "garbage-man" lawyer, gets stuck between a rock, a hard place, and an even harder place when a case goes over-the-top. Michael Clayton was one of the Best Picture nominees for the 2007 Oscars and, while I did not love every aspect of the film and would not have given it a Best Picture spot, I did find it to be quite good overall.

The majority of the film's cast gives performances that are less than anything to get excited about. Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson are not bad but they have both given far better performances in the past. They were both nominated for Academy awards for their supporting performances and Swinton actually won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this role? Whatever, I do not see it.

The biggest problem with Michael Clayton is that the story itself is not particularly engaging and fails to bring the viewer in on an emotional level. Even with human atrocities going on, we simply do not care about anything or anyone besides Clayton. Director Tony Gilroy tries to do something unique with the film and decides to shoot the beginning of the film out of sequence. Unfortunately, this is done for no other reason than to try and be artsy and does absolutely nothing for the film.

When all the scenes come back together, we find out why Clayton is sad, why something hurts his feelings, and why his car blows up. Oh yeah, we would not have been able to figure that out if the film was played in chronological order! Plus, the way Gilroy chose to film these scenes does nothing for the film's tone or climax any differently than showing things in chronological order would. All it really does is come off as a cheap movie trick - woopty doo, Gilroy.

With all the film's faults, Michael Clayton is not a completely bad film - I actually enjoyed it overall. The best thing about the film is George Clooney who gives an excellent performance as an interesting Michael Clayton character. Clayton is trapped by this unfortunate and unwanted situation he is stuck in and we as the audience really want to see if he can get out. Other positives for the film are Sydney Pollack's brash big-gun law firm head character and James Newton Howard's nice score. Also, one of my favorite aspects of Michael Clayton is its sharp look, quite captivating with some very cool textures, crisp lighting and over-exposed shots. Overall, I would say that Michael Clayton is generally watchable and is mostly recommendable if not solely for Clooney's great lead performance.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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