Eye For Film >> Movies >> Michael Clayton (2007) Film Review
As a successful ‘fixer’ at a huge law firm, Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is the sort of guy that sorts out any problems his clients get into. However, when his guilt-ridden mentor Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) tells him he has damming evidence against the company, Michael starts to question his chosen profession and has some tough decisions to make.
It’s important to note that Michael Clayton isn’t what it appears to be. Though the trailer sold us a fast-paced, garden variety, against-the-odds conspiracy thriller, its actually a clever slow-burner, more concerned with paranoia-inducing mood and delicate character subtleties. Yes, it’s written and first-time directed by Bourne trilogy-screenwriter Tony Gilroy, but Michael Clayton is more about tense boardroom showdowns than it is gun-totting set pieces.
It’s also pretty confusing at times. In a very Michael Mann-kinda way, Gilroy makes no apologies for how he tells his story and makes no concessions for those with goldfish-like attention spans. Using a wraparound structure to frame the plot (the first 10 minutes of screen time are chronologically near the end of the story, the majority is flashback, then we join where we started to see how things pan out), Gilroy’s directorial debut requires full viewer concentration as its narrative does more than fill gaps between car-chases and explosions.
However, while revolving around the world of corporate lawyers and multi-national conglomerates, it's moral ambiguity that is of prime importance here as Michael faces some tough make-or-break choices. While there’s definitely a negative vibe towards big profit-seeking companies, this isn’t a preachy movie obsessed with ramming a ‘message’ down our throat. Just like Clooney’s peppered hair, Michael Clayton is all about that tough grey area between black and white.
Speaking of gorgeous George, he’s as impressive as ever in another ‘serious’ Oscar-worthy role. Utterly convincing with possibly his strongest performance to date, Clooney can do the stressed, inwardly conflicted man whose worldview has been shaken till the cows come home. As for the trio of powerhouse support, Tom Wilkinson is outstanding as clothes-tossing firm legend Arthur, Sidney Pollack oozes class as Clayton’s tough-but-fair boss and Tilda Swinton impresses with yet another emotionally-unstable bitch.
Suspenseful, beautifully shot and featuring some unexpectedly poignant moments with horses, Michael Clayton might not be what was expected, but it’s a fine motion picture. This is one truth that cannot be adjusted.Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2009