August 31, 2007

Venice. Michael Clayton.

"Tony Gilroy, fed up with writing what he calls errands for everybody else (e.g., the Bourne films), has written and directed a highly accomplished first feature in this moralistic thriller," writes Derek Malcolm in the Evening Standard. "Gilroy orchestrates his attack on the morals of corporate lawyers with considerable skill and provides [George] Clooney with a part that brings out the best in him."

Michael Clayton

"Spare and unhurried..., Michael Clayton features strong performances and a solid story, drawn from the familiar well of faceless corporations grinding ordinary people through their profit-making machinery," writes Brian Lowry for Variety. "Yet Gilroy's fidelity to his script comes at the expense of the pacing, which initially lumbers forward so assiduously as to feel like a throwback to an earlier era. If George Clooney's recent choices have oscillated between serious showcases (think Syriana) and moneymaking endeavors (the Ocean's series), this falls squarely into the former camp."

Updated through 9/6.

Update, 9/1: "As with the Bourne films, Gilroy has a knack for creating strong characters and situations that resonate with tension," writes Kirk Honeycutt for the Hollywood Reporter. "It may be formula, but the guy is a solid chemist as he crafts excellent set-ups and payoffs, and he has mastered those 'ah-hah' moments when everything locks into place."

Updates, 9/3: "It would be no surprise to see Clooney back at the Oscars for playing the title role in Michael Clayton," suggests the Telegraph's David Gritten. "It's a sophisticated entertainment, offering few easy resolutions. Gilroy is confidently in charge of his material, and [Tilda] Swinton truly shines as a nuanced character rather than a one-note villain."

"Though stylishly lit by Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck camerman Robert Elswit, it's poorly edited and tries too hard to be a Seventies-style conspiracy thriller - it even co-stars Sydney Pollack," notes the Observer's Jason Solomons. "Perhaps most disappointingly, George is slightly underpowered here, a bit too much Danny Ocean and not enough Erin Brockovich. It might soon be time to decide: does he want to act or be a politician?"

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Clooney's been "presented with the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres medal at the Deauville American Film Festival over the weekend."

"The opening voiceover from an unseen Edens ([Tom] Wilkinson) somewhat sets the tone of the whole film, but also sets up a disorientation from which the film never quite recovers," writes Roger Clarke for Screen Daily. "Wilkinson is entirely believable as a man having a mental breakdown, and his friendship with Clooney's character feels nuanced and genuine. Cast against type, Tilda Swinton makes for a good corporate villain, with a genuine whiff of decay about her fighting against another odour, that of moral sterilisation."

Updates, 9/4: "As it goes with so many films with an anti-corporate bent attached to standard thriller practices (think of The Constant Gardener, although that was a much better film), no one ever bothers to get to grips with what it is that the rogue company is supposed to be doing wrong," writes Time Out's Dave Calhoun. "A recent review of Fast Food Nation in the New Yorker noted that the left offers better ideas than it does movies, and with [Redacted and Michael Clayton] on the menu at the Venice, I'm inclined to agree, at least when it comes to the American variety."

"Deliberately paced, with a strong supporting cast (Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, Tilda Swinton) and a smart script that harks back to corporate thrillers of the 1970s - Clooney compared it to Three Days of the Condor - this, despite a few minor plot contrivances, expertly captures the shadowy side of corporate America," writes Mark Salisbury at In the Company of Glenn.

Update, 9/6: "Walking into Michael Clayton, I was hoping for a film along the lines of classic 70s Sidney Lumet or Alan J Pakula; what I got was something more along the lines of an above-average 90s John Grisham adaptation," writes Cinematical's James Rocchi from Toronto.

Covering the coverage: Venice 07. Index.

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Posted by dwhudson at August 31, 2007 10:57 AM