Michael Clayton, a high-priced-law-firm's fixer, leaves a late-night poker game, gets a call to drive to Westchester, and watches his car blow up as he's taking an impromptu dawn walk through a field. Flash back four days. He owes a loan shark to cover his brother's debts (Michael's own gambling habits have left him virtually broke). His law firm is negotiating a high-stakes merger, and his firm's six-year defense of a conglomerate's pesticide use is at risk when one of the firm's top litigators goes off his meds and puts the case in jeopardy. While Michael is trying to fix things, someone decides to kill him. Who? Meanwhile, his son summarizes the plot of a dark fantasy novel. Written by
When Michael Clayton spots Arthur Edens in the back alley, we see Arthur carrying a bag of bread. In the beginning of the conversation, one bread in the middle is missing its top, which apparently may have been eaten. In the following shots, we see the same bread full, without the missing top. See more »
Michael. Dear Michael. Of course it's you, who else could they send, who else could be trusted? I... I know it's a long way and you're ready to go to work... all I'm saying is wait, just wait, just-just-just... please hear me out because this is not an episode, relapse, fuck-up, it's... I'm begging you Michael. I'm begging you. Try and make believe this is not just madness because this is not just madness. Two weeks ago I came out of the building, okay, I'm running across Sixth ...
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This is a well-made suspense film. It builds slowly, it features the key characters in sometimes agonising close-up, it weaves an intricate plot (a bit too intricate, in hindsight -- I'm still not sure why some events were included), and George Clooney is masterful as the morally conflicted character who does his best to hold his collapsing life together, while slowly realising that his role in life is not quite what he thought it was in any case.
There are some things this film is not. It's not an action film ... if you expect that, it will seem very slow. It's not a warm and friendly film that leaves you feeling good about the world -- it was shot in winter, just to emphasise its coldness. It's not a comedy in any way, not even through being over-the-top. It's reality rather than escapism.
If you like suspense, unflinching realism, stories of moral conflict, criticisms of corporate America, or George Clooney -- or if you're just in the mood to see that kind of film -- you'll love it. If you're in the mood for a film to wash away the cares of the day (as I was), choose something else.
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