Wednesday, November 06, 2013

"The Counselor" (2013) - Movie Review

Cormac McCarthy’s first original film screenplay and directed by Ridley Scott is a broken poetry and that is not a compliment. This is not a film shying away from its self awareness of its pretentious nature but it does not compensate it with signs of moderate intelligence and class which shows its head barely. The film is a desperate narration by its characters in one of the most uneven layers performed by overabundantly capable actors. It does not know whether it is a play from ancient literature or is the product of the elements from the current form of film making. Either way it fails. It gives a sense of watching lizard’s tail being cut off as it slithers and wallows into motionless being. It evokes a queasy feeling but that does not mean it strikes a nerve.

Pairing the masculine and stunning Michael Fassbender with the voluptuous sex goddess Penelope Cruz could be the iconic starting for a promising film but the feeling is short lived. It is not that they speak cryptically before the Counselor engages in pleasing his lover but it is the existence of such a discussion in a completely miscalculated scene. This marks the aberrant tone which reverberates through the rest of the film. The Counselor is presented as a confident man from the way he clothes, the place he lives but importantly the people he knows. One such is the tanned and inconclusive character Reiner portrayed by Javier Bardem. Reiner is a drug lord with plethora of wealth and appears to be a good friend. He has the snaky and unforgivably sexy Cameron Diaz as his lover Malkina. Malkina is not the trouble as an eye candy draining your wealth rather she is the trouble that would slit your throat while having an orgasm.

The only best part of the film is the manner in which the characters are clothed and costumed up. Each of the character are marked by their presence. We know what they are even before they begin to talk and the problem is that McCarthy with Scott decided that would be the only criteria to develop them. The rest is all a platform for them to meander in the discussions of death, violence, women, actions, acceptance and consequences. For audiences who are unaware of the works of Cormac McCarthy and are not exposed to the films that originated from his book would be bewildered by this spectacle of talented performers spewing irrelevant lines to one another. For audiences who are familiar with his works would be disappointed. The evidence of great writing and scenes are often seen but never climaxes into a profound moment as it thinks it does.

The problems this film has no bounds. The disconnected scenes are endless while the symbolism are tied along with it never culminates its purpose due to the writing. It begins with the truck that navigates through several territories through several hands over blood and defecation (the drug truck poses as a sewage truck). I admire a film that bases the plot in subtlety and enhances the philosophical element through the characters which has accepted them for who they are and are a level above in being a wise person to the characters that are drawn to that world. “The Counselor” assumes that and is spectacularly confident. It is an essential quality to be successful but here it is a discordant exchange of dialogues between people who talk with a resounding assurance. It is baffling to witness that.

I think the disappointment is more for this reviewer due to the intent from these talents in all departments. The film has already half sold it to people like me wherein the project is self explanatory when you enter it. Hence the disappointment is little more than any other audience because I am already there in this with evidence of the big names that appreciate the art of film making and it makes you look like a fool for having that faith. Having scathingly said things about this piece, I do have to say that all the actors commit beyond their capability. I would have too if I read McCarthy and Scott as the architectures of this film. Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameroon Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt along with other known actors follow this pied piper for their demise of their characters literally.