Thursday, November 28, 2013

Movie Review - The Counselor

As the credits rolled, and I was wondering why the cheetah handlers were listed so far down -- just above the caterers, in fact -- the attendant, pausing in his clean-up, asked me whether I'd enjoyed the movie. We were the only ones in the theatre by then, and as the few folks who'd taken in the matinee hadn't left him any significant work that I could see, I felt I had a few moments to reply.

"I think so," I said, after serious reflection, eventually nodding my head, as if some inner conflict was just then resolved.

I went on to say that I suspected I'd enjoy the book more; that the dialogue -- more soliloquies at times, really -- certainly grabbed me, and while I felt that some of the actors were able to carry it, many failed to capture the gravitas. I'd put Rubén Blades, Bruno Ganz and Javier Bardem (in that order) in the former category, and, in the latter, certainly Pitt and Diaz. Diaz in particular had a very tough role to play, and while I don't think she did a terrible job, many of her scenes were too light, too airy. Scott surely has a role to play in that as well; her world was undoubtedly purposely clean and sharp for contrast, but I just felt that maybe in the camera angles, or possibly the soundtrack, some of her awful emptiness needed to be conveyed.

Now, if I hadn't glanced at Rotten Tomatoes before heading out, I doubt I would've pulled that out; I would've been overwhelmed with, as some of their top reviewers state, the script's lack of cohesion, and, thanks to an enormous cast, its inability to get any real investment from us. Ultimately, it struck me as a collection of McCarthy's favourite passages -- and don't get me wrong; I think many of them are doozies! -- which is hardly a recipe for a great film.

I notice that the Coen brothers adapted No Country For Old Men, and that McCarthy's only other screenplay is almost as old as me. I think that's significant. Still, I was serious when I said I think I'd enjoy the book; some of that dialogue was fantastic. Maybe I'll start with his Pulitzer-Prize-winning The Road.