Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
With a star studded cast, featuring the likes of Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt, and directed by Ridley Scott, with a script from one of the greatest American novelists alive, Cormac McCarthy, obviously I went to see “The Counselor” on face value alone. Admittedly, aside from the fact that this is not a very cinematic endeavor, the first half of this film is pretty bad. That is to say the first act and a half is far too cryptic for its own good, with dialogue that is in love with its own double entendres and lines which sound as though they would be more at home in a novel than spoken aloud by human beings. But, if you’re patient enough to stay with this film until the second hour, you will be rewarded by witnessing how McCarthy and Scott weave this almost action-less tale together, quietly guiding audiences into a brilliantly disturbing and hypnotic finale.
The performances (the standout coming from Bardem) are all fine here. These are all great actors, so what else would you expect? Same goes for the direction. The wildcard with “The Counselor” was always McCarthy’s transition from novel to feature film scriptwriting; a transition that was a first act failure on the grounds of dialogue alone. In that same breath, his high caliber story of a lawyer who gets involved in drug trafficking and his masterful construction redeems him almost entirely by the time it’s all said and done.
As I alluded to before, there is not much action here, which may give the illusion to some that sequences are occurring but nothing is progressing, which may also promote watch checking. But within this conversation based film, as much as I would have preferred the dialogue to have been handled with more subtlety, the subtext is always interesting, gaining its momentum from the converging stories within the second half.
Final Thought: “The Counselor” is the film equivalent of an artichoke. You either like it or you don’t. And both are understandable. Maybe one day, once all of the critical heat dies down, history will look more kindly on this movie. But for now, there will be flaws within it that a majority of mainstream audiences just won’t be able to forgive.
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