Reviewed by: Jeanne Sockwell McRorey
|Featuring:||George Clooney, Sean Cullen, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack, Michael O'Keefe, Ken Howard, Denis O'Hare, Robert Prescott, Austin Williams, Merritt Wever, David Lansbury, Bill Raymond, David Zayas, Skipp Sudduth|
|Director:||Tony Gilroy (“The Bourne Supremacy” / “The Bourne Identity” / “Armageddon”)|
|Producer:||Steve Samuels, George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“The Truth Can Be Adjusted.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 says it all:
“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him. These are: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
“Michael Clayton” covers every one of them.
Adults only on this one. The R-rating is well deserved for violence, STRONG language, adult content. The first scenes cannot be missed, so don’t tarry at the concession stand and don’t plan on leaving for the next 2 hours. And, stay for the first part of the ending credits, because the actual film continues for a bit.
THE TRUTH CAN BE ADJUSTED is the tagline for George Cooney’s (“Ocean Eleven,” “…Twelve” and “…Thirteen,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) character Michael Clayton. He is a top-notch lawyer with a high-profile law firm, but for the last 15-odd years has been the company “fixer”—he cleans-up messy details of the firm’s clients whether it be “shoplifting wives to bent congressmen.” A janitor, basically.
We meet the movie’s namesake in present time and then go back 4 months. We find out how Michael’s life has disintegrated: divorce and debt, sibling turmoil, plus pressure on the job to be everything to everybody.
Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Importance of Being Earnest”) is senior litigating partner at Kenner, Bach and Ledeen. Edens has discovered a document that had been lost in the shuffle of papers during the 8-year litigation with their client U-North. This company has Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “The Beach”), their powerful and unscrupulous in-house counsel. 450 people convinced that the company is responsible for sickness and many deaths are suing u-North for a mega-million dollar settlement. Arthur is, we discover, bipolar and currently off his meds. He is engaged in the legal proceedings with the clients and “snaps”—goes into uncontrolled rambling of the case and suddenly, he strips off all of his clothes. This is recorded on camera (camera-phone?) and sent to the firm. Michael is sent to “fix this problem.”
It’s a downhill spiral from here. Not the movie; the characters IN the movie. The movie is shot in very dark tones. Each character has their demons and we have a front seat to big business corruption, deceit, bribery, and all general descriptions of rottenness. Karen talks of “getting rid of” problems (people) like she’s ordering a grocery list. She has the art of deception so fine-tuned it is basically who she is. Michael is deep in doom for family, job and his loan shark. He knows he can handle everything because he has done it for so long. But now he’s breaking down along with his world.
It is always heartwarming to see a character played so well that you actually wish you could help. George Clooney carries this movie, but Tom Wilkerson is the one to watch for a nomination for an award for his character.
Language is the most objectionable part of the movie. The f-word is used as an adjective. In the strip scene, body parts are blurred. Karen dresses before you (tastefully) as she prepares for dissertation.
Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” Here, I believe Art imitates Life. Success in life is a wonderful thing to achieve. But if you’ve lost your Soul getting there, it is quite a disillusion.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.