Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movie Journal: Michael Clayton

This is what we call an overrated movie. There's no denying it. Not only was it nominated for Best Picture in 2007, but also rated a score of "perfect" by Roger Ebert, Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly and Claudia Puig of USA Today. I admit that it is an interesting thriller and a profound movie in many ways, but it also fails where so many average movies succeed.

First of all, the script is overflowing with cheap baggage and fluff. Inspired baggage perhaps, but baggage nonetheless, and the overall storyline is forced to haul it around in a rather unseemly fashion.

Secondly, it's controlling idea, if there indeed is one, fails to come across in a gripping or impacting way. It's a message we've seen so many times before, and it's no more profound here. The result is obvious. The lack of a proper controlling idea, as you can imagine, dealt a heavy blow to the pace. All three acts grinded tremendously, to the point that at parts it was just painful. It's very often that the plot, as well as the scenes themselves, appear to be just drifting without true direction. At times, it was a mess.

I watched an entire two-hour movie called Michael Clayton, and yet I still have absolutely no idea just who Michael Clayton is. Which is rather frustrating, considering that the main character took up a major chunk of the screentime. All I know about him was that he was a bad person experiencing a mid-life crisis, wanting to fix what was wrong. At least, that's what I think he was. Some of his actions and statements indicate a different scenario, so I'm not really sure. I doubt anybody will be, perhaps even including Tony Gilroy, the writer and director of the film. Come on, Tony. You've made better movies than this.

And yet, having said all that, Michael Clayton features some really intricate and intense dialogue that grips you. It made me giddy. For that, Mr. Gilroy, I applaud. But know this: I honestly believe your movie could have been so much more.

6 out of 10

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