Review: The Counselor


Director:Bill Condon

Cast:Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz

Running Time:116.00


For a film featuring the first original screenplay of Pulizer Prize winning Cormac McCarthy and such a star-studded cast, I had some pretty high expectations. I should have known that the somewhat lackluster trailers were going to be a really good indication that I should have just stayed home.

The Counselor is a bleak film following a lawyer (Fassbender) who gets in over his head during a one-time drug deal with a Mexican cartel.  The story is so simple it's a bit difficult to want to watch it through its conclusion "“ it's obvious that something is clearly going to go awry, and there's enough foreshadowing that you can guess the outcome. What's not clear and is never explained are the motivations on the parts of the various characters. Typical McCarthy.

Perhaps the most interesting performance in this film for me was Cameron Diaz's Malkina, a sexualized, confident, mysterious woman with an affinity for all things cheetah, right down to her eye makeup. The role isn't something I'm used to seeing her in, which made this an interesting turn for her. Fassbender's performance as the Counselor (his character is never given an actual first name) is solid but overall unremarkable. Brad Pitt's Westray, a mere supporting role, is a very confident and sly man, a trait that Pitt seems to imbue into his mannerisms and way of speaking.

The dialogue is one of the worst things about this film. While it's perfect for something on a page, having multiple characters monologue several times throughout a film feels clunky and extremely unnatural. In a book, the characters could have had that large chunk of dialogue and it wouldn't have been so noticeable. It doesn't translate to film.

Overall, The Counselor is a bleak film with an unfortunate ending and some fairly gory violence. I've reached my quota of beheadings for the year. Aside from just being bleak and depressing, the story is a bit of a mess and doesn't really flow coherently. If you're looking for the feel-good movie of the year, The Counselor is not it.


About Candace Breiten

Candace Breiten

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