Movie Review: Michael Clayton

Movies and Television

Michael Clayton is a modern day, liberal legal thriller that is short on thrills, more on style. Or rather the director’s attempts at creating a style.

© 2007 Warner Bros. Michael Clayton

It has a non-linear storytelling (in medias res or whatever, near the end in this case) and directing shtick to make it seem all artsy fartsy. But it is a character study, simple:

Lawyer off his rocker: Tom Wilkinson is a brilliant litigator, law firm shark when on his meds. (Aren’t we ALL better when taking our meds?)

When off the drugs he is crazy, in love with his client’s foe and on the right side, morally.

Corporate lawyer with the shoes for it: Tilda Swinton got an Oscar for an almost nothing role, a long time corporate lawyer who is on the wrong side and selects some very, very wrong options to keep winning.

There is no meat to the role, but Swinton gives her character a little personality: loyalty to the Company and the Boss; nervousness with practicing her speeches which is why she is in house counsel and not it a courtroom; and greater attention to the wardrobe (the “I heart irony” link) than her soul.

Law firm partner with a plan: the late Sydney Pollack, doing rich old white guy in charge.
Corporate lawyer on the edge: George Clooney as burnout, former shining star and now a fixer, the guy you call when not just any lawyer will do.

He gets you to the right lawyer, the right cops, makes sure you are on your meds and so on. We see the failed marriage, troubled family man but without a real reason as to why, other than he misses doing well in court/getting that respect. But he is good as the fixer, so he is just sort of over his life, hard to see why.

Final Snark: that is it. It is about a case of corporate greed and who should win and will Clooney do the “right” thing. Not suspenseful or anything, but well done and worth a look when on cable.

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