Saturday, April 4, 2015
THE COUNSELOR (2013)
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Cormac McCarthy
Cinematography By: Dariusz Wolski
Editor: Pietro Scalia
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Rosie Perez, Brad Pitt, Bruno Ganz, Ruben Blades, Goran Visnjic, Edgar Ramirez, Dean Norris, Toby Kebbell, Natalie Dormer
A rich and successful lawyer, the Counselor, is about to get married to his fiancée but soon becomes entangled in a complex drug plot with a middle-man known as Westray. The plan ends up taking a horrible twist and he must protect himself and his soon to be bride as the truth of the drug business is uncovered and targets are eliminated.
I will mention I am reviewing the theatrical version not the uncut directors cut.
The film is not as bad as you might have heard. Certainly it might be challenging for a general audience.
I believe some of what disappointed the audience is what happened previously with the Brad Pitt film KILLING THEM SOFTLY it was advertised with more action and intrigue then what was shown on screen. More about characters,dialogue, fate and dynamics. Basically decisions and the consequences of them. Not only how get affect the individual bit those around them also. With this film it has a star studded cast also, So all the hopes were up. Though that should have also been a tip off as actors more or less want to play and inhabit characters. Not necessarily be in action extravaganzas. So that this film comes off more as talking then showing, Like it is holding back most of the exciting action.
The film comes off more as a lesson in philosophy and a moral tale, Though it becomes hard to sympathize with the character when everyone is telling him not to do the deal and what might happen if he does. Then he decides to do the deal and once it happens he is shocked that it is all coming true. I don’t know if it was a message about entitlement and privledge, with such a great cast this film feels like it should have been epic.
Cameron Diaz tries and gives her all, but it feels like she is miscast. She has the best Role though doesn't show the correct depth to really inhabit it and make herself shine. Kind of like her role in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY. Which Is part of how the rest of the cast feels they are good, but it also often feels like a case of dress up for them. Instead of them feeling like their characters. Cameron Diaz's character Malkina is Argentinian in Cormac McCarthy's screenplay. The country of origin was changed to Barbados for the film. This decision was seemingly made to better fit Diaz' physical appearance to her character's ethnicity. Angelina Jolie was originally cast as Malkina but dropped out, and was replaced by Cameron Diaz.
The film is brutal and hard to follow at times when it comes to characters motivations especially when the title character is warned against going into a deal by virtually all involved and still goes forward with it, with. I real reason explained. Which is the basis for most of the film a lot is hinted at but very rarely explained. Especially when it comes to the end and the exact reason for all of this. Maybe it is all supposed I be more symbolic
Nihlistic and violent. What would you expect from noted author Cormac McCarthy (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE ROAD) who is usually nihlistic and philosophical concerning life, death and morals. This is his first work that is purely only a screenplay. Not a book or a play.
Ridley Scott shows a sturdy hand while showcasing a vibrancy that makes what could have been stiff and mundane come to life and feel assuredly bouncy. I only wish he had brought this flavor and energy to AMERICAN GANGSTER.
Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner were considered to play Reiner. Brad Pitt was also interested in the role before he was cast as Westray. Michael Fassbender agreed to star in this as part of a two-picture deal. The next film would not be a sequel; instead the studio would fund his Assassin's Creed project.
The film feels excessive, but more spiritually then anything though Cameron Diaz's scene having sex with Javier Bardem's car is campy yet memorably classic and a strange highlight. Truly a character defining scene that We are not sure was ever supposed to be sexy.
The film is full of intoxicating colors.
Natalie Portman was considered for the role played by Penelope Cruz
The film also feels like it is vaguely missing a true second act as it just seems to wander from first to third.
Also as the film makes us pay attention more to it's dialogue. While it's fitting to end the film with a comeback to a conversation thy was said earlier a suggestion as well as a throwaway visual doesn't pack the punch emotional or otherwise that the film has lead us up to at this point. The audience expects more and he restraint might be as we have preciously been shown a rather graphic violent death of another character so the film chooses not go for overkill.
Even some of the cameos seem random and only to show the actor either in a total different light then we have seen them before or as in the case of Dean Norris roles that we have them play before and are he most familiar. It might seem like stunt casting, Though each role is vital.
The film is dedicated to the late great Tony Scott, Ridley's Brother and one of my modern favorite directors (THE LAST BOY SCOUT, TRUE ROMANCE, MAN ON FIRE, ENEMY OF THE STATE) oddly this seems more like Tony's type of material. Criminal undergrounds and the high price players in it, Mexican drug cartels, morally questionable characters. Plenty of room for action sequences, stylized dialogue, symbolism, didactic beautifully shots, more of show don't tell.
A satisfying rental, though proceed with care