Michael Clayton is a clever plot-twisting thriller that conveys Clooney’s skill for portraying socially conscientious, but flawed characters that have an axe to grind. The film is written and directed... Read more by Tony Gilroy and stars George Clooney, Michael O’Keefe, Sydney Pollack, and 2008 Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton.
Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a high-priced-law-firm's fixer; the go-to-guy when crises need to be avoided. And as a former criminal prosecutor, Clayton takes care of New York’s Kenner, Bach, & Ledeen's dirty work upon request of the firm's co-founder, Marty Bach (Pollack). Clayton is at a somewhat delicate point in his life - burnt out; going through a divorce, and mounting debt from a failed business venture and not to mention the problematic gambling. It seems Clayton is fixed to his ‘fixer’ role for the long-term.
Meanwhile, at U/North the career of litigator Karen Crowder (Swinton) rests on the multi-million dollar settlement of a class-action law-suit that Clayton's firm is leading to what seems to be a successful conclusion.
However, Kenner, Bach, & Ledeen's brilliant but guilt-ridden attorney Arthur Eden (O’Keefe) sabotages the U/North case; reeling Clayton headfast into the biggest challenge of his career; unravelling a web of deceit, lies and the evils of what Crowder can do, when backed into a corner.
The performances from the cast are memorable and compelling portrayals of strong characters. Watch-out for O’Keefe’s version of a troubled lawyer turned whistle-blower; and Swinton’s Academy Award performance of a cold and calculating corporate monster. Gilroy has written a strong and earnest thriller that plays well of narrative and although flashbacks has been misused by Hollywood in recent years, Gilroy has used it effectively; and in turn has strengthened Clayton’s character journey.
Gilroy has also been subtle is his story-telling techniques and trusted his audience to be able to interpret the plot-points on their own without the in-your-face theatrics that some directors tend to use in modern cinema.
Michael Clayton is a film that most people will find gratifying and entertaining. It is a well acted and well written film that will understandably stand the test of time.