Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy

Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy
If there’s any doubt that George Clooney has matured into not just a powerful movie star but an actor with a wide range of tools at his disposal, Michael Clayton should dispel them. Using his clout as a star and experience as a producer, he helped get this film made; in the title role he brings a level of gravitas in this adult thriller that becomes the film’s morally uncertain centre. He’s a corporate "fixer” ¾ think Harvey Keitel’s Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction, but for criminals who prefer the legal brief to the nine millimetre. The mess at hand involves advocate Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), who, after putting years of work into a class action lawsuit, cracks up and is found aiding and abetting the opposition. This isn’t kosher in a world where the only justification for any action is that it’s in the best interests of the paying client, full stop. It’s also the point where plot synopses ¾ and even discussions involving the relationships between Clayton, Edens and Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) skirt the rim of too much information, and to spoil the creamy centre of this entirely satisfying drama is to ruin the whole dish. Suffice to say that the structure built by first-time director Tony Gilroy (who wrote or co-wrote all the Bourne movies) is extremely solid, and the film pays off all its various threads beautifully in a showdown that takes place neither in a courtroom nor a boardroom, and which features no gunfire, no pools of blood and barely even a raised voice. Yet the impact of the film ¾ with exceptional performances across the board ¾ is stronger for it, a powerful whisper in a room full of shouters that simply demands to be heard. The DVD offers up a handful of deleted scenes, only one of which has real impact, and an incisive commentary from Gilroy and film editor John Gilroy, who’s also his brother. (Warner)