Archive for October 28th, 2007

October 28, 2007

>How the Truth Can Be Adjusted


Security, stop that man!

Michael Clayton (2007) – According to Wikipedia, a “MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or Maguffin) is a plot device that motivates the characters and/or advances the story, but has little other relevance to the story. The MacGuffin is common in films, especially thrillers. Commonly, though not always, it is the central focus of the film in the first act, and later declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out. Sometimes the MacGuffin is all but forgotten by the end of the film.” Think of most of Hitchcock thrillers and in more recent times, think of the Jason Bourne trilogy, whom screenwriter – Tony Gilroy, not only wrote Michael Clayton as well as directed it. In the film, George Clooney plays a corporate “fixer” in a big law firm in New York who sees himself involved in the billion dollar suit against U/North, which action is leaded by a bipolar disordered Tom Wilkinson. A little longer we’ll find out the company is being sued by farmers because of a germ-killer (?) the corporation used despite knowing about the awful effects (perhaps, death?) it would have on people.

The introduction is pretty complicated. You see Clooney’s character driving his son to school after picking him up at home where the kid’s mother is in the kitchen in the company of another man who is feeding a baby girl – OK, Clooney’s character must be divorced or something. But is he good or is he bad? Is this movie about the law-suit itself? What the hell is U/North? And then suddenly, he parks his car in a distant area outside the city. He leaves the car. A couple of minutes later, his car explodes, just like that. So, someone is setting him up, someone wants to kill him. But, why? The second part of the film is about what happened in the past days before the car explosion, until the story comes back to the present time. In the meantime, we’ll be introduced to Tilda Swinton‘s character, a cold and ambitous litigator behind the U/North issue. Just one single scene is enough for the audience to picture her personality. The character is seen rehearsing each line she intends to say on an interview which is probably about her career. To make this sutil moment even more powerful, the frames of the methodic rehearsal are cross-cut with the actual interview. In the few scenes she plays, Swinton gives one of the best female performances of the year, but she’s so underrated that I won’t even hope for any award recognition. As for the film, besides it narrative complexity it didn’t bore me for a second, and I’d never really expect such an ending. That’s when I realized I had no idea who Michael Clayton was.

I say – What’s exactly inside the red covered notebook?