The best of Clooney
The latest Clooney vehicle, Michael Clayton is an intelligent film that relies on the power of words rather than action to thrill us.
Written and directed by Tony Gilroy, writer of the Bourne franchise, the film takes us into a corrupted world where lawyers lie and corporations kill.
Our tour guide is Michael Clayton (George Clooney), who works for a prestigious law firm. He knows that conscience has no place in the world of corporate greed. He is content to be the 'janitor', mopping up messes for his bosses.
But Clayton is forced to review his life after his friend Arthur (Tom Wilkinson), the star lawyer of the firm, gets killed after suddenly turning against U/North, the agrichemical company he was representing in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit.
The role of the morally ambiguous Clayton brings out the best in Clooney. His character conveys a weariness that is both seductive and repellant. He never argues or judges, just getting on with his job while struggling with the contradictions of his life.
Gilroy knows that words can speak louder than action. The characters speak like they are shooting arrows. The climactic scene in which Clayton confronts the amoral chief legal consultant (Tilda Swinton) at U/North is a masterstroke in dialogue writing.
Michael Clayton is brave enough to reveal the inconvenient truth of capitalism, and remind us that most of us are not victims, but accomplices.