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Michael Clayton (2007)

The Truth Can Be Adjusted

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 119 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

I’ve heard George Clooney described as “the thinking man's movie star” on several occasions and after watching “Michael Clayton” I would agree whole heartedly with this statement, mindless entertainment this is not.

Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is a lawyer working for a large corporate legal firm as a “fixer”. He cleans up messy legal problems for the company’s “heavy hitting” clients. It’s a job he’s getting sick of, he’s middle-aged, divorced and realizes that his career is going nowhere but his gambling problem and a failed attempt at opening a bar have left him broke and total dependent on his company. When one of the companies partners Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) strips off in the middle of a deposition for a class action case he’s been working on for six years, Clayton is sent to get him back on his medication and bring him home. The case involves a giant chemical company, UNorth, who’ve been accused of killing 400 people with their weed killer. Edens tells Clayton that the chemical company knowingly did it and he has proof, which is a problem as it’s their company’s job to get UNorth off the hook, not dig them a deeper hole. Clayton is skeptical at first, but after Edens dies under mysterious circumstances he becomes more suspicious and then after he narrowly escapes his own assassination, (in the only exciting moment in the whole movie) he decides to confront Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) a director of UNorth.

While this movie does have a plot, it’s never really directly referenced, requiring you to figure it out from glimpses at legal documents and complicated dialogue. There are people out there who will find these mental gymnastics an invigorating experience, but if you like your movies straight forward, this is perhaps not for you. Ultimately the plot comes across as a secondary consideration to the character development and dialogue. Great lengths appear to have been taken to create rounded characters, we know Claytons “mind state”, we know the problems, successes and relationships he has in his life. We also get insights into Edens honestly deranged life and the anal retentive Crowder (who by the way seems far too nervy and unsure of herself to be a director of that size of company). While this movie wasn’t exactly boring, it’s focus on character and dialogue make it very slow and a little confusing in places, an awful lot of irrelevant footage was taken up showing Clayton trying to negotiate himself out of the financial hole he was in, a situation that had little or no bearing on the plot. This however, was not a bad movie, the acting was exceptional, especially from Clooney and Wilkinson and much of the dialogue was snappy and heavy with emotional undercurrents, just make sure you are paying attention when you watch it.

It's Got: Great dialogue, wonderful character acting and the lovely George Clooney.

It Needs: Slightly more screen time focused on the plot.


A difficult to follow plot, but lovely characters and snappy dialogue.