My Rating: ***1/2
Directed by Tony Gilroy
Starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, and Tilda Swinton
Michael Clayton reminds me of three films:
1973 - Serpico: Frank Serpico takes on corrupt cops in NYC.
1976 - Network: Howard Beale gets mad as hell about television in this brilliant satire.
2006 - The Lives of Others: A Stasi officer in East Germany sympathizes with his observed subject and screws around with his reports.
Now I am not saying that Michael Clayton is unoriginal, cause it ain't. It's more original than anything coming out in your local multiplex. What I'm trying to say is that this film is morality tale about just doing what's right. Sure, the main villain is a corporation, but this is not a message film. A never better George Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a legal fixer for a big firm. His job is to clean up any messes made by clients and such. This time, his mess his a very big one. Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson; the soul of the movie), the firms biggest and best lawyer, suffers a mental breakdown in a middle of a deposition, strips naked, and roams the streets of Milwaukee, rambling about something. Clayton learns that Arthur has stopped taking his medication and eventually gets him back on the pills. But to Arthur, he didn't go wacko. He found the light. We soon learn that Arthur had a moral crisis, and has built a case against his client, agricultural giant uNorth.
This film is not an anti-capitalist satire. It's more of morality films as Clayton must help the truthful Arthur Edens, from hit men and crooked lawyers. This film is also an underdog story. In the age where the middle class is shrinking, it gives you hope that the little people can beat the suit on top. It is a thrilling drama that would make Sidney Lumet proud. I have to give kudos to the entire films cast and director for making this film a fluid film. However, the best props goes to Tom Wilkinson, for playing the mad as hell Arthur Eden. He is the film's heart and soul, as the corporate lawyer gone good. If somehow Javier Bardem loses the Academy Award for supporting actor to somebody else, I won't be mad if Tom Wilkinson wins. He deserves it just as much as Bardem does. And remember, there is still a thing called hope, and this film has a lot of it.