I am probably the last film reviewer to see writer/director Tony Gilroy’s (The Bourne Trilogy) Michael Clayton and I admit to seeing it at the discount theater here in Culver City. Although it reflects the creative influence of George Clooney and pal Steven Soderbergh – and a hit of last summer’s legal drama Damages – Michael Clayton is a riveting look at the ethics in the legal profession within the context of globalized food production and personal morality.
Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a legal custodian whose job is to clean up after affluent clients. His inner conflict is shown by his descent into gambling, his strained family relations, his attempts to be a good father, and an upright human being.
When one of the partners in the firm, Arthur (Tom Wilkinson), has an attack of conscience and wants to switch sides and jeopardize his firm’s earnings – a firm that has been making millions off of defending a multinational corporation from a class action suit that claims the company’s practices harmed people – Clayton is called to rein him in. Things go terribly wrong, and Tilda Swinton as the corporation’s inside attorney, Karen(this film’s very evil step-mother so to speak), resorts to the worst to save her firm.
What will Clayton do as he navigates this murky world, and his own?
This is the question – and well worth the two hours. Superb acting, a little too “talky”, but if you like films that deal in the morass of human selfishness and wants in a world of need, I think you’ll appreciate this film.
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