Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton (George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sidney Pollack) – Michael Clayton is disappointing.  I’m talking about Michael Clayton the man, not Michael Clayton the movie.  Clayton was a litigator relegated to serving his firm as a “fixer,” the guy the other lawyers go to solve problems, get them out of jams and make bad things go away.  He hasn’t made partner, has gambled most of his money away, ruined a marriage, and has a generally negative attitude on life.  But he’s good at what he does and he’s a good dad, too. And by the end of the movie, we find he has some conscience and is a good and loyal friend.  The story that gives us this insight is well crafted by Tony Gilroy, writer of the Bourne series but a first-time director here.  The wonderful thing about this movie is that, while Clayton is our protagonist, he is hardly sympathetic.  He is a complicated character and is played that way beautifully by Clooney, who isn’t glib or funny here at all.  It resembles his Oscar-winner performance in Syriana, and he might get another nomination here.  Tom Wilkinson, the British actor with one Oscar nomination for In the Bedroom, plays a senior partner in the firm who has represented an agricultural chemical company for many years. He finds out the company has known that it’s been killing people and he goes crazy – literally.  He strips naked during a deposition, goes AWOL, and pledges to bring the corporation down.  In steps the company’s high-powered lawyer, played by another Brit, Tilda Swinton, who simply can’t let the company’s secret become public.  The rest is a taut mystery with stereotyped bad guys and a few hokey scenes, but nothing that distracts you from the action at hand.  This is a must-see film with layered and flawed characters.

 

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