After a prominent lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company in a class-action lawsuit, a fixer is brought in to keep things quiet.
Michael Clayton (2007)
Written and Directed by Tony Gilroy
Starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton,
Sydney Pollack, Michael O'Keefe, Merritt Wever, Sean Cullen
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Tilda Swinton)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (George Clooney), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Wilkinson), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score (James Newton Howard)
Michael Clayton is an ambitious legal drama from a first time director. At times, too ambitious. Tony Gilroy's direction leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. A good chunk of this movie lacks focus and seems to drag on for eternity. It's saved by a satisfying finale and its consistently great performances. I feel like Gilroy failed to find a balance between Michael's harrowing work life and his crumbling home life. Because of that, neither got as much development as they could have. But overall, the film isn't bad because Clooney, Wilkinson, and Swinton are putting in some of their best work.
Michael Clayton (Clooney) is a fixer who is brought in when his law firm is in a serious bind. He does damage control and does what he can to remedy the situation at hand. When lawyer Arthur Edens (Wilkinson) has a nervous breakdown after a crisis of conscience compels him to turn against the chemical company he's representing, Michael is dragged into a conspiracy involving a steep cover-up, murder, and U-North's general counsel Karen Crowder (Swinton). Meanwhile, Michael owes a lot of money to a loan shark after his brother cheated him. I could've done without this subplot, as it doesn't really go anywhere. The ending sees Michael confront Karen with his findings and it's so good it just about saves the movie.
Michael Clayton is a good movie, but has a lot of unnecessary subplots that distract from the larger conspiracy story. The performances are all fantastic, the score is tense and memorable, and most of the script is gold. My biggest gripe is how slow the film is at times, and a bit of trimming could've prevented that.