Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I'm pleasantly surprised when a film shows a novel visual sensibility, especially when its the debut directorial effort from the screenwriter of such films as Armageddon, Devil's Advocate and The Cutting Edge. Michael Clayton is feverish and claustrophobic, its lighting either paltry or blurred. Tom Wilkinson's sweaty mania, which almost scared me away in the trailer, seems like the most sympathetic response to the palpable air of anxiety.
Cost-benefit analysis is a real enough source of horror that the film's dark blue dread doesn't come off cheap like in Adrian Lyne films or Flightplan. Which isn't to say that showing the climax at the beginning was a good idea, or that the payoff isn't pat, or that the final shot doesn't scream "for your consideration." But Clooney takes a long time to choose between hero and anti-hero, and Tilda Swinton's androgyne Hillary is a question mark herself. Having failed to catch Atonement or the second-best-at-best pregnancy comedy of the year, I'll take this rumination on The Evil That Men Do over the hollow, more cartoonish pair it's competing with.