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 Clayton is in Edens' loft, looking through the copy of the book his son recommended, the artwork of the horse on the hill was added through CGI as it was recommended to be a reason for Clayton to pull over and walk up the hill in the very early shot with the horses. (According to the commentary track, the editor was pushing for three horses in the photo, as just one wouldn't be enough for viewers to get the reference.) See more »
When Michael Clayton asks Marty for a loan, a crew member is reflected of a wooden door over Michael's left shoulder, moving back and forth. The actors are standing completely still. 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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I saw "Michael Clayton" again today probably for the 20th times. This film has amazed me of the right balance, timing, touch, probability, possibility, and still continues to be a wonderful piece of storytelling at my 20th viewing. The premise is most simple, bordering on a soap opera plot. A gray-area guy wakes up against the corrupt and evil surrounding he used to be all right with. He gets to the bottom of his personal and professional life, and wants to crusade against all the wicked hands that feed him. The central theme here is anguish, which I do not know any worldly and sane person not to have. It is a story of greed, money, betrayal, violence, and self-doubts. A few secrets of this film's success, as far as performances go, I believe, are the followings: 1) the likable nature of George Clooney's character 2) the absolutely non-penetrative nature of the character of Tilda Swinton 3) the wonderful madness of the character of Tom Wilkinson 4) the cold-blooded charm of the character of Sydney Pollack. These four main players are with realism and acting internalization. The director Tony Gilroy must have been a great explainer to get all the characters understand inside-out of what they are, aren't, up to, and not up to, otherwise it would have led to shallower performances. I think it is rare to find a film enable us to understand and take a strange compassion towards the so-called "bad guys" (in this case, including one very bad girl). The reason is that everyone operates in fear and instability. No one is God and no one is Satan by design. "Michael Clayton" becomes the film's title because the bucks stop here. You can follow his final departure from the Grand Ball Room to the escalator and into a taxi, whose driver is instructed to "just drive for the $50's worth", and you can judge if Michael Clayton of the world can continue to be a shock absorber for them all, being Gods or Satans. My opinion is: it is a worthily meditative ending of a worthy film.
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