No spoiler alert necessary. I wish I were you and didn’t know how it ends.
MICHAEL CLAYTON is the best movie to open in fourth place this year. I’m sure it will do better after it wins a slew of Oscars.
But even with great reviews and George Clooney this Warner Brothers picture didn’t open. Jeff Robinov, the studio’s president of production recently announced that women can’t open movies and he would not greenlight any project starring a woman. So now I suppose he’ll expand that to include not greenlighting any project starring a man either.
Clooney meanwhile, gives the performance of his career. There’s something wrong when Dwayne Johnson can open a movie and George Clooney can’t.
MICHAEL CLAYTON is NETWORK meets THE VERDICT meets ERIN BROCKOVICH. For film students it’s a master class in story structure, character development, theme, and dialogue. If one USC film major is found in a theater seeing WHY DID I GET MARRIED? instead of this he should be thrown out of the department and banished to Pierce Junior College.
For all the accolades Aaron Sorkin receives, writer/director, Tony Gilroy may just be the next Paddy Chayevsky. As writer of the Bourne trilogy and now MICHAEL CLAYTON he is proving you can be great without constantly reminding everybody of it.
Every performance in this film is noteworthy. For my money Sidney Pollack is an even better actor than director (and I give him a bye for directing SABRINA). Tilda Swinton (great name) somehow manages to be both a villain and a sympathetic character (is there ANY British actor who isn’t great? I bet Benny Hill could have played Don Vito Corleone.), and Tom Wilkinson as Peter Finch is a shoo-in for an Academy Award (despite Thomas Hayden Church as the “Sandman” in SPIDERMAN 3).
Other notables include: Katherine Waterston as “Third Year”, Remy Auberjonois as “Fifth Year”, and Pun Bandhu as “Four Year”. I have no clue what those roles were but the really good ones make it look so easy you don’t even notice them.
So if you liked NETWORK, THE VERDICT, ERIN BROCKOVICH or any two of the three you should really enjoy MICHAEL CLAYTON. See it now before it becomes a TV series with Matt LeBlanc in the title role.