Last night we saw Michael Clayton at the local "cheap theatre" here in Huntington Beach. (Where they use 25-watt bulbs in their projectors.) The opening voice-over of Tom Wilkinson was stunning. (How often do director's have audiences sit in darkness staring at their film's title? Well, it worked, because the timbre of Wilkinson's voice drew you in like the 1st chair cellist of a symphony orchestra doing a solo.) You knew from the first word that Michael Clayton was going to be one wild ride of a story.
It was wild. Maybe a bit too wild.
I'm not a big fan of jigsaw puzzles. When someone dumps a 1,000 piece puzzle on a table, my innards draw into a knot. (Other folks shout "Hallelujah!" at the prospect of a puzzle, but for me it's instant heartburn. Different strokes.) Anyway, I felt there were so many loose, disconnected pieces of the film coming at me so quickly that I was attempting to assemble a mental jigsaw puzzle--at gunpoint. I made it to the end with a fairly complete "picture," although I had a few missing pieces. (They must have fallen into my popcorn bag.)
This would definitely be a good one to see a 2nd time. I think the guy sitting in front of us was on his 3rd or 4th viewing. He would giggle to himself a second or two BEFORE a significant plot revelation or one-liner occurred. I wanted to swat him on the back of the head.
We'd heard so many friends and family talking about how wonderful MC was that I guess we'd built up our expectations too highly. I wish I'd gone into it with negative expecations (like I had with There Will Be Blood).
It WAS a good story. Actually, a great story. Maybe that "25-watt" projector made everything blurry and indistinct, because I kept longing for more clarity and focus on important story elements. (For instance, I just KNOW I saw three horses in the "little red book" that Michael found in Arthur's flat, but I can't be sure of it. That would certainly explain the unusual equestrian trio that caught Michael's eye and saved his life on that wooded hillside.)
Tom Wilkinson was absolutely marvelous. He and Javier Bardem are the only nominated supporting actors I've seen. They were both great, but if this were a two-man race, I'd cast my vote for Wilkinson. (Probably because Bardem scared me spitless!)
As to Mr. Clooney. Well, let's just say I appreciate jigsaw puzzles more. I know my older daughter (and maybe younger?) will want to be removed from the will for that comment. When he and Wilkinson did scenes together, it was like he was just helping an actor run his lines. His best scene was the confrontation with Tilda Swinton (Karen, the U-North Diva) at the very end of the film. And that taxi ride while the end-credits rolled? Why? I could watch Meryl Streep in a taxi for an hour or two, but 15 seconds is plenty for George Clooney (in my opinion). Thankfully the credits themselves were at the opposite end of the screen!
Was that mean?