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Michael Clayton (2007, George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson)

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More than just a genre thriller Michael Clayton is a superb piece of intelligent entertainment, rightly rewarded with a whole slew of Oscar nominations, including one for Clooney as best actor (in the end it was a double score with not just nominations but also a statuette for -co-star Tilda Swinton as best supporting actress!)

Clooney is Michael Clayton, the fixer for a top New York law firm, but he finds he may be out of his depth when the firms top litigator (Tom Wilkinson), currently embroiled in a long running $3 billion dollar lawsuit, lose the plot, has a breakdown and decides to cross the floor to the other side. The more Clayton tries to fix things the deeper in he gets and the more trouble he realises he is in.

Written and directed by Tom Gilroy, whose previous pedigree includes writing the Bourne trilogy of thrillers, Michael Clayton is a hugely prescient tale of corporate skullduggery gone mad. Told in flashback over the course of four days, the movie is a Graham Greene-esque style entertainment with Clayton coming to realise that the corporation he has worked for for fifteen years puts the dollar before human life.

Wilkinson is superb as the pushed beyond his limits whistleblower and actor/director Sydney Pollack turns in one of his usual laidback and enjoyable performances as head of the law firm. Tilda Swinton isn’t actually that big a presence in the film but she sparks off Clooney very well in their few scenes together.

The slightly too pat ending negates the possibility of a sequel, which is a shame as you could easily enjoy seeing more of Clayton.

production details
USA / Warner / 119 minutes / 2007

Writer: and Director: Tony Gilroy

cast
George Clooney as Michael Clayton
Tom Wilkinson as Arthur Edens
Merritt Wever as Anna
Michael O’Keefe as Barry Grissom
Bill Raymond as Gabe Zabel
Denis O’Hare as Mr. Greer
Tilda Swinton as Karen Crowder
Sydney Pollack as Marty Bach
Robert Prescott as Mr. Verne
Julie White as Mrs. Greer
Austin Williams as Henry Clayton
Jennifer Van Dyck as Ivy
Frank Wood as Gerald
Amy Hargreaves as Interviewer
Rachel Black as Maude
Susan Pellegrino as Secretary
Katherine Waterston as Third Year
Heidi Armbruster as Anna’s Sister
Pamela Gray as Cindy Bach

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