Written and Directed by Tony Gilroy. Stars George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Sydney Pollack.

Michael Clayton is the new legal thriller which scored seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

Michael Clayton is introduced as a “fixer.” In the opening scene he gets a call regarding a client’s car accident, and he is dispatched to the house to “clean up” the mess. He does the “dirty work” for his law firm, getting cases to lean their way. Clayton gets thrown into a legal mess involving a massive law firm, an insane litigator (played by Tom Wilkinson), and the lead counsel for some kind of corporate entity (played by Tilda Swinton). Hilarity ensues.

The performances by Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson are pitch-perfect. George Clooney, on the other hand, gets too much credit for playing George Clooney. He’s spot on as Michael Clayton, but he’s starting to go down that same road as actors such as Denzel Washington, who repeatedly play similar characters and give familiar performances. All I’m saying is that I strongly disagree with Clooney’s Oscar nomination and the constant praise he’s been getting for this performance. He’s perfectly cast (and he is a great actor), but the real praise should be going towards the supporting roles, who really out-shine him.

While most legal dramas tend to feel and look, at least to me, pretty bland, cinematographer Robert Elswit, who’s responsible for the beautiful photography on films such as Punch-Drunk Love and Good Night, and Good Luck, gives Michael Clayton a nice, slick look. Also, kudos go to writer/director Tony Gilroy for writing a smart and original script that, despite a few glaring plot holes, puts a nice spin on a dying genre. It all leads to an incredibly well-acted, well-written climactic confrontation that makes the monotony during some of the film’s second half worth the wait.


Michael Clayton will be released on DVD February 19th (this Tuesday).

Here’s the trailer for Michael Clayton:


One response to “MICHAEL CLAYTON

  • Ray-Anne

    Hi there – can a mere fiction writer contribute something to your post? I have come to Tony Gilroy through his use of story craft and particularly writing techniques and beats within the thriller genre. I write crime fiction and find both the criitcal analysis of screenplays such as this one useful in terms of the craft, and the use of visuals.

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