Friday, 6 March 2009

michael clayton

Clooney is Clooney in this gripping legal thriller directed by Tony Gilroy, the writer of the Bourne Trilogy. He plays the eponymous Michael Clayton ‘the janitor’ for his law firm; cleaning up the mess, doing the dirty work behind the scenes and fixing the problems. The plot focuses on a case in which Clayton’s firm is representing its biggest client, an agrochemical company, against a lawsuit brought by small farmers whose families and land have been poisoned.

Clooney is good but the real stars are Tom Wilkinson as a member of the law firm who realises that his client is guilty and Tilda Swinton as an executive of the company he is defending. Wilkinson manages to convince as an unstable but brilliant lawyer and Swinton conveys brittleness beneath the fa├žade of the hard nosed business woman. She won a best supporting female Oscar for her performance and it is well deserved. Mention should also be made of Sydney Pollack who plays Clayton’s boss. He sustains an ambiguity which means that we are never sure whether he is fully involved in the illegality at the heart of the film or just sailing very close to the wind.

The ending is slightly disappointing and rather perfunctory and I was left waiting for another twist. But the real stunner is the direct rip off in the final shot. Clooney’s face in full screen conveying a mixture of emotions as he is driven around in a taxi during the closing credits is straight from the ending to The Long Good Friday. Its shameless grand larceny and actually is nowhere near as powerful as Bob Hoskins’ career defining performance. Nevertheless, an enjoyable watch.

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