Michael Clayton

We finally got around to watching the movie, Michael Clayton. It's a decent movie starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson (who steals every scene he's in) and Tilda Swinton (I can't put my finger on who she reminds me of…any thoughts?). It's also the last film of the recently deceased Sydney Pollack.

Michael Clayton
received a bundle of Oscar nominations (but only Swinton won…I think Wilkinson was more deserving) and a ton of hype…so my expectations were very high. It's a good movie, but I think I'll have to watch it again some other time when the hype won't be misting my perception. The movie takes place in the present, but is supposed to be a throw back to the 1970s style of movie. I don't get that. I must have missed those movies in the '70s, maybe because of my age. It struck me more like a film noir of the 1950s, but not as dark or intense.

If you haven't seen the movie, but plan to, stop reading now. The following might contain spoilers.

If you've seen the movie you know it starts with a voice-over followed by several disjointed scenes. Finally, as the title character, Michael Clayton (Clooney) stands on a hill looking at three horses, his car explodes behind him and the screen dissolves to a message: "Four days earlier." and we start seeing the events sequentially. I think they blew it. (Sorry, wasn't meaning to make a pun of the car exploding.) I mean they showed too much, they gave away too much, they revealed the key point.

Again…stop reading if you haven't seen the movie and think you might at some point.

As soon as the car explodes, we know that Michael eventually goes against the baddies…that Michael does the right thing. Isn't that the point of the movie to see Michael struggle with the decision about doing the right thing? To see his journey? Since we know the baddies want him removed, to me the penultimate question has already been answered. Michael does the right thing. (Since it's a movie, we can boil it down this way…real life, not so simple.)

Now we are left with lots of little questions: when does Michael do the right thing? why does Michael do the right thing? exactly who are the baddies…there are several candidates for that dishonor…and who are not the baddies? But what should have been the main question…will Michael do the right thing…was answered 15-20 minutes into the movie! We shouldn't have seen the car blow up till the end of the movie! What did you think?

As to when and why Michael does the right thing, the answer is too late and for the wrong reasons. He does the right thing only after he's been bought off, after he hands over the money for his own gain, and after the baddies blow up his car. In other words, Michael doesn't do the right thing when it costs him anything or on his own conscious…he does the right thing after he's protected his hide by paying off his large debts and only after the baddies come after him. What do you think?

2 comments to Michael Clayton

  • My son loathed this movie, for what it’s worth. I can’t bring myself to watch it because he hated it so much. He thought it was dishonest and boring and twisted, morally. I’ll never completely understand what makes some films so idolized!

  • One more thing: I shold mention that I tagged you at my post here. Have fun!!!

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