Sunday, October 14, 2007

Michael Clayton and the Surprise Beginning

Tina and I saw Michael Clayton last night - we liked it a lot.

Although the movie was not without its flaws, I think it hit at least one original mark - doing something better than I recall ever seeing in any other movie.

The movie starts off with a quite involved, detailed sequence. Michael Clayton - played to perfection by George Clooney - gets a call to see a client of his firm, who had left the scene of a hit-and-run in Westchester. We learn something of this client, his wife, and about Clayton, who drives off. The dawn is breaking, Clayton stops at the sight of some horses on the top of a hill. Clayton gets out of his car, walks up the hill to commune with the horses, and-

That's when the movie really begins. Now we have of course seen faux beginnings in James Bond and all kinds of movie. But I don't believe I've ever seen one as effective as this one. Kudos to writer, director, producer Tony Gilroy.

The rest of the movie was good. Some nice surprises, a few slow spots in the middle, and a few things that needed a bit more explanation in the build-up to the finale. In particular, Clayton is too quick to get to the villain - there are others in the fold, in his company, and the other company, who could have been responsible for the bad deeds.

The acting was uniformly excellent. Tom Wilkinson is always good, and was even more so in this movie, as was Sydney Pollack. Bit parts were vivid, too - especially Sam Gilroy (Tony's son) who gives a sharp, memorable minute or so as a kid who works in a copy shop, and Austin Williams, who was superb as Clayon's son.

All in all, a worthwhile, enjoyable, harrowing ride, with touches of Hitchcock, into the heart of darkness that is at least one of the things beating in corporate America.

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