Michael Clayton - quick thoughts

Ok, instead of telling screenwriters and directors about "show and tell", how about following that doctrine and just showing them Michael Clayton? Class-action suit films are generally not my thing, but there isn't a crying mom or dying kid in sight here, just professional people trying to do their jobs, and a screenwriter-turned-director showing everyone how it's done.


There's this wonderful moment where Michael Clayton is looking through his colleagues apartment. He opens the fridge, sees a bottle of champagne and two glasses. The shot is clear, but not overemphasized. We don't get a shot of a "Eureka" look on Clooney's face. But we understand that seeing this means the guy didn't kill himself, and we know that Clayton is smart enough to get that, too.

If there's one criticism to be made it's that for a thriller, it isn't particularly thrilling. It is never boring, however, and there is a kind of horror to seeing Tom Wilkinson's character killed, not because there's so much violence or blood or gore involved, but because of the cold professionalism of the killers: it seems that to them, there isn't much difference between installing microphones in someone's apartment, placing a bomb in a car or killing someone, checking - twice, for good measure- to make sure his pulse is gone.

The film ends with Clooney in a cab, while the credits show. He's not a great actor, probably. But he knows how to portray a character without acting too much, or making his feelings too explicit. And Tony Gilroy, the director, knows how to leave out enough, but never too much: he doesn't condescend to his audience, but he's never too clever, either. I can't wait to see what he does next.

1 comment:

cjKennedy said...

So many movies are aimed at 13-year-old boys, it's nice to see a good one for adults once in awhile.

Clooney isn't one of those chameleon actors who transforms himself into characters, but within a certain range he's quite good. His biggest stretch was Soderbergh's Solaris remake, but most people seemed to hate that one. I liked it a lot, but then I'm a Soderbergh apologist.

Speaking of Soderbergh and Gilroy, I don't know if the last time you watched Third Man if you watched the Criterion re-issue, but Soderbergh adn Gilroy do a pretty good commentary track on it. Gilroy actually talks a little too much and Soderbergh lets him, but they're both pretty smart guys.

Anyway, Michael Clayton was perfect, for one thing the ending seemed a little too easy and cliche' to me, but it was good.