Ken's Review: Michael Clayton - Might Not Be For You
by Ken Evans
October 4, 2007
Every few years a film gets released that really makes me think about who I am and how I live this life. It didn't occur to me how much I love these films until I realized that every time someone asks me for recommendations for a film to watch, these are the ones that I suggest first. Movies like Jerry Maguire, Good Will Hunting, A Civil Action, The Break-Up, and Ben-Hur. Although these are all very different types of films they have one underlying connection. They all have a character that starts out looking at life one way but then after going through some trials and tribulations, comes out better and more fulfilled then before. The same goes for Michael Clayton.
Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is a "fixer" at a huge law firm. The firm has employed him to keep the dirty laundry clean by bending the truth and covering up scandals. Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) is a well known lawyer at the same firm who is defending the agricultural giant "U-North" in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. During a deposition Wilkinson decides to strip off his clothing and run around the parking lot. Fearing that "U-North" might drop the firm from representing them, they send Michael Clayton to smooth things over and assure them that Wilkinson is fine. In the process Clayton uncovers some startling truths about "U-North" and the lawsuit. Truths that shake Clayton down to his foundation and make him question everything that he knows.
George Clooney is hands down one of the greatest actors in Hollywood. I can't think of a film I haven't enjoyed him in. He has an old-time actor feel to him that you just don't see anymore. He makes me remember back to actors like Cary Grant and James Stewart. They were able to play the serious roles and the funny roles, but always came across as powerful. Clooney has proven to be the same. He can play a comedy role in O' Brother Where Art Thou? and then equally play a serious role in a film like Syriana. If it has Clooney in it, you bet I will be seeing it. I also have to mention Tom Wilkinson who almost stole the show. Ever since his performance in In The Bedroom he has made me a fan. You don't want to miss him in this.
Along with great performances there is great directing. This is director Tony Gilroy's first film, which he also wrote. Other films for which he either wrote the story or screenplay are: all three Bourne films, Proof of Life, Armageddon, and The Devil's Advocate. For a first-time director, this is the kind of film you want to make. Every scene had purpose and was executed wonderfully. The progression and development of each character was thought out and also executed to perfection. However, even though it had great directing, and the acting was outstanding, this film isn't for everyone.
Why isn't this film for everyone? Because it's slow paced and has a complex, detailed storyline that demands your close attention. This isn't your summer blockbuster type of film. This isn't the film to see if you just want some eye candy. However, it is enthralling to the point that you become totally immersed in the story. This is the kind of film, just like Syriana or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which you watch if you want to see filmmaking and story writing at its finest. This is the type of film where you watch the character change before your eyes and it makes you want to change as well. It is a thought-provoking film instead of a film where you can just shut off your mind and take a break from reality. I always find this kind of movie more memorable and rewarding. If you take the time to see Michael Clayton, I hope you find it as rewarding as I did.