A rich and successful lawyer, the Counselor, is about to get married to his fiancée but soon becomes entangled in a complex drug plot with a middle-man known as Westray. The plan ends up taking a horrible twist and he must protect himself and his soon to be bride as the truth of the drug business is uncovered and targets are eliminated. Written by
Felt like a two hour ad for Calvin Klein, but a really good one
The Counselor is the work of a fantastic director, an incredible writer and an A+ cast but sadly it just wasn't put together well enough to be an effective movie. It was written by the talented Cormac McCarthy, this is his screenplay debut and his lack of experience shows, he seems to forget that he is writing the script of a modern film and not a novel or a play. Many of the scenes are lengthy, one on one exchanges between two characters who speak in long extended monologues. The dialog itself is sharp, cryptic and original, I loved hearing the characters' philosophical banter about death, religion, sex, acceptance etc. The simple yet tragic story however is muffled by the heavy abstract dialog, which seems to be trying to be as far from expository as possible. It's hard to make out the details of what's actually happening and you constantly find yourself asking, what's the point? I did however enjoy the writing, it was dark and beautiful and I'd love to see McCarthy return to this style in another, perhaps more illustrative script.
The characters, who are portrayed by some of the most talented actors out there, are all ambiguous, intellectual, bad-asses. It's fun to see slick, eccentric characters like these, but there is no variety, everyone is simply a beautiful and sadistic human being and it becomes very boring to watch. Nobody is lovable, or realistic, or funny or imperfect. It is also impossible to become invested in the characters or the story line. Just a bunch of cool people wearing expensive sunglasses saying and doing cool things, which is enjoyable, but not for a solid two hours.
The cinematography is exceptional, each shot has the aesthetic quality of a well thought out photograph. There was clearly a lot of thought put into camera angles, and where characters and objects were placed within the frame. I was never bored admiring the exotic, luxurious locations captured with such skill.
All in all, the ambitious dialog, the beautiful cinematography and the very capable cast, coupled with a very intense soundtrack made for a film that successfully created a very dark, poignant tone. Unfortunately the story was unclear, despite being very basic. The characters did not contrast each other at all, and it was hard to give a damn about any of it. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in film since I did have a good time and I think there's a lot to take away from it. As a film maker, it's interesting to see a group of people who are all masters of their craft, sincerely try there best, and make something that is so completely ineffective.
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