52. Michael Clayton (2007)

You want the truth? Okay.. maybe George Clooney can handle the truth.

Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by: Tony Gilroy
Starring: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson

Oh. My. God...if only I knew how to read...

I just about slept through my legal studies classes in high school, but thank god, the business-legal thriller genre can deliver compelling stories like Michael Clayton without having to be a brain. That’s not to say Michael Clayton dumbs down the story for the audience, or purely relies on suspenseful music and George Clooney’s good looks to pull off a movie worth watching. Instead, the film pieces together engaging characters, risky courses of action and a struggle to keep the truth from surfacing in a way that is pretty clever and impressive in its execution.

Michael Clayton (Clooney) works as the ‘janitor’ of a big law firm – meaning he works behind the scenes to fix up any messy situations that may arise for the clients and the good of the firm. When his good friend, Arthur Edens (Wilkinson) creates a stir by going off his meds and stripping in a deposition for a corporation the firm is defending, Clayton finds himself trying to get through to the once legendary attorney and understanding his seemingly mad raving.

What makes Michael Clayton are the performances delivered by Clooney, Sydney Pollack, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton. With so much at stake, and other underlying struggles relating to family and personal desires begin to emerge, the tension created between the characters come from the very screen presence that are created by the actors and their chemistry together. In short – the casting director deserves a pat on the back (or some other recognition for their good choices).

As the writer of the Bourne series, Tony Gilroy comes across as a director who is more than adept at telling a story that holds the audience through engaging conversations and steady, well-measured scenes. Rather than load a thriller with ridiculous amounts of action and shaky handheld cameras that make you a little motion sick, Gilroy proves dependable performances and an attention-holding story can make legal issues and the dark side of corporations worthy of being cinematically thrilling.


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