The new film by Ridley Scott, was considered to be one of the potential leaders of the coming awards season, and it’s quite predictable. The movie is full of stars, the script is written by Pulitzer Prize winner and one of the recognized classics of American literature, the director’s chair is occupied by a person who has made at least three movies, taking a significant place in the history of cinematography. A strong cocktail is blended, and the premiere date is in Autumn, revealing very ambitious plans as well. However, this time we didn’t get the “masterpiece”, and the idea to make a good crime thriller, promised by a dynamic trailer, also failed.
«The Counselor» begins with a long scene in the bed in order to show a little paradise of the main hero and his future wife and to define a contrast between this quite happy life and the cruel realities of the world. Counselor is planning to propose marriage to his girlfriend and goes to London, where he together with the audience listen a long lecture on the properties of diamonds, which will be crowned with intricate life analogies of a jeweler. Meanwhile Counselor comes back to the States, and visits a luxury villa on his friend (Javier Bardem, eccentric and charming as always), where they have a long talk about the “affairs” , and of women. The phrase “talking about affairs” is very appropriate here. The whole movie is full of such notions words as “goods”, “bargain”, “those people” etc., but what exactly is going on can be understood only in general terms. This trick of “universal understatement” shows that anyone can find himself/herself in the position of the main character and it really doesn’t matter what this “deal” is about. All that matters is the consequences and how a person will cope with these consequences, the focus on psychological aspect is made.
In general the original idea could have made a movie worth attention if Scott put energy so badly needed here, and Cormac McCarthy paid more attention to the logical sequence of events happening on the screen, rather than lengthy philosophical rants on the abstract topics. In order to feel the pressure of the situation, the audience should feel a connection with the character (it’s not necessary to understand his actions, it is necessary just to be able to see the real person in a real situation). In “The Counselor”, the narration goes the more unnatural and fake the whole story looks. Long and complicated dialogues seemed amusing at the beginning, but at some point it becomes apparent that the script does not care about the story and its central logic, but is trying to fill the movie with numerous chatters, appropriate and not. Thus the interest of the audience disappears as the answer to the question “who is to blame” is evident.
The truth is, everything seen in this movie is difficult to interpret unambiguously, and, it is not the case when all this ambiguity gives food for further thinking. The only thought coming to my mind is “What was that?” Indeed, it is unclear how this “miracle” was released on the big screens, even though the film is clearly not designed for a mass audience. It is difficult to compare this movie with “Killing them softly” which at least presented a clear story, the dialogues were corresponding this story and the atmosphere was perfectly matching. “The Counselor” doesn’t create the right atmosphere, the whole story consists of episodes, many of which are irritating. For example, the whole demonstration of poor Mexicans, kids taking off clothes from a dead body, and the girls cleaning the blood and the brain of the car surface looks like frank speculation. And why did they show cheetahs in the movie? Maybe the creators wanted to show the analogy between people and predators. This is a little clumsy trick.
Of course, the movie can’t consist only of weak points. It’s nice to see good actors, and a couple of interesting scenes (for example the splits made by Cameron Diaz on the windshield). Michael Fassbender shows wonderful acting kills. Though Brad Pitt is only a “light version” of Jackie from “Killing them softly” and his acting here looks too standard. Still, in general, two hours spend on watching this movie will go nowhere. The movie is hardly a complete and coherent story. It is clear what exactly McCarthy was going to say, but why this idea is expressed in such a strange way remains a big question. The movie ended before it really began.