Friday, February 29, 2008

Praising Clayton

So what if Tilda Swinton and her not quite there American accent in “Michael Clayton” won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress over Cate Blanchett because only the most hardcore Dylan fans could stand to sit through “I’m Not There”? The film itself has a “one man against a corrupt system” plot that is nothing less than a fantastic “Erin Brokovich”-styled maguffin. Tony Gilroy’s faux thriller is really a character study about one man facing himself in the mirror, and discovering the ugly reflection that everyone else sees so clearly. (That this man is embodied by the beautiful George Clooney is a brilliant touch.) Clayton is constantly being told that he’s nothing more than a necessary fixer for the prestigious firm he works for, a “janitor” not a lawyer. Even he repeats it throughout the film like a mantra without feeling. But it’s not until the end that the heavy burden of “sin” that his colleague Arthur (the wondrous Tom Wilkinson) confronts straight on – and descends into Lady Macbeth-like madness as a result – overtakes his soul and his conscience takes over his actions. This is heady stuff for Hollywood – and well deserving of its accolades.

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