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Movie of the Day – Michael Clayton

Posted on the 10 January 2012 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

It’s the little movies of George Clooney’s career that often get overlooked.  For Ocean’s film or big budget film like The Perfect Storm, there are numerous, smaller budget flicks that he truly flexes his muscles in.  While I love practically every movie he is in, it’s the ones that fly under the radar of most people that really show how versatile of an actor that George Clooney is.  Films like The Good German, Out of Sight, Solaris and today’s flick, Michael Clayton, that give us a wide view on the range that Clooney has, a true artists in his work.  While I plan on covering a lot of his films as they are all worthy of the Movie of the Day post, Michael Clayton just seems like the right film to cover today, with the corporate espionage melodrama propelling a strong acted and finely ensembled film.

Movie of the Day – Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton (George Clooney) handles all of the dirty work for a major New York law firm, arranging top-flight legal services and skirting through loopholes for ethically questionable clients. But when a fellow “fixer” decides to turn on the very firm they were hired to clean up for, Clayton finds himself at the center of a conspiratorial maelstrom. Once an ambitious D.A., Clayton is now a shell of his former dynamic self, thanks to a divorce, an unfortunate business venture, and astronomical debt. Though he longs to leave the cutthroat, ethically dubious world of corporate law behind, Clayton’s poor financial situation and devotion to firm head Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack) leave him little choice but to remain on the job and tough it out. Meanwhile, litigator Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) finds her entire company’s future hinging on the outcome of a multi-billion-dollar settlement overseen by Clayton’s friend, star lawyer Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson). When Edens snaps and decides to blow the whistle on the questionable case, sabotaging the defense, Clayton must decide between his loyalty and his conscience. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

A fantastic character piece with Clooney breathing some gravitas into the life of Clayton, a corporate fixer.  Naturally, as an audience, we would immediately dislike the notion of corporate scum having a fixer get them out of troubles, almost seemingly above the law with their actions.  It is the central conflict that Clayton faces that tests the morality of his allegiance to the company and to his friend.  The deterioration of his friend Arthur Edens, played marvelously by Tom Wilkins, starts to lose his mind and that conflicts with his situation, you see Clayton start to have an internal conflict of interest.  All this plays out in a wonderfully paced film that might seem slow at the start, but there is so much hinging on the decisions that Clayton takes.

Movie of the Day – Michael Clayton

This is one of the more morally complex character that Clooney has had to play in a while.  A man who is bound by loyalty, but also because he doesn’t have much else in his life.  In debt, divorced and with few things to look for in life, Clayton is basically married to the job that he hates because of the ethical dilemma that he has with the way the corporation does business.  While the family and wife dynamic of his falls a bit flat with the story and where it goes, the best aspect of the story revolves around the choice between loyalty and his conscience.  Does he help the firm win the case or do the right thing for his friend Arthur and see that things get better?

I don’t want to spoil anything with this movie as the script and story is tight and one of stronger Clooney films.  The story is moody, as is the performances, but when dealing with such a dilemma, how can the story not be a bit somber?  I am willing to bet that not a lot of people have seen this movie.  I didn’t even see it until about two years ago by chance of an Oscar screener and was impressed with the story, which is written by Tony Gilroy.  With a strong ensemble cast and the perfect lead Clooney pushing the story towards a tense ending, you got to give this one a watch.  The story is compelling and Clooney will win you over, even with his faults as a shill for corporations to fix their problems.

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