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The Counselor Is the Cumbersome End Product of a High-Minded Writer Slumming It and a Director Searching for Depth 

Thursday, Oct 24 2013
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Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz in The Counselor

Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz in The Counselor

The Counselor is the cumbersome end product of a high-minded writer trying to slum and a slick director aiming for cosmic depth.

In his first original screenplay written directly for the screen, novelist Cormac McCarthy takes a holiday from the apocalyptic portentousness of his own adapted No Country for Old Men and The Road, instead giving us a wet-lipped drug dealer (Javier Bardem) with hedgehog hair and a pastel-hued, cactus-laden mansion; a pair of deadly cheetahs; and a constricting weapon that slowly severs heads.

What hasn’t been lost is McCarthy’s wordy speechifying, which undoubtedly aroused director Ridley Scott. The look of The Counselor is smeary and smoggy, as if shot during one long, hot, dirty Los Angeles morning. Yet amid Scott’s chronic fetishizing of various macho odd jobs, from alloying liquid metals to removing bullets, are long-winded monologues about the inherent evil in all of us. It’s a bit like attending Sunday school in a bordello.

click to enlarge Javier Bardem and Michael Fassbender in The Counselor
  • Javier Bardem and Michael Fassbender in The Counselor

Details

The Counselor
Directed by Ridley Scott
20th Century Fox
Now playing
111 minutes
Rated R



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Aside from its enjoyably bleak ending, The Counselor generates few thrills, mainly because its pawn -- a corrupt lawyer undone by a botched Mexican drug deal -- is played by Michael Fassbender, a steely, intimidating figure who looks merely sulky when he’s supposed to be in peril.

Cameron Diaz, as Bardem’s two-faced wife, trips over her character’s Barbadian accent, and over such impossible lines as, "It’s our faintness of heart that drives us to the edge of ruin."

But she still proves irresistible; her angular cheekbones and feline pout resemble Sophia Loren’s, and her spry, gymnastic performance—in one sequence, she straddles a whole windshield—is the brightest spot in this joylessly seedy enterprise.


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The Counselor
Rated R · 111 minutes · 2013
Official Site: www.thecounselormovie.com
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Natalie Dormer, John Leguizamo, Dean Norris, Goran Visnjic, Rosie Perez and Penélope Cruz

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