Michael Clayton – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Tony Gilroy

Cast

Tom Wilkinson ………. Arthur Edens
Michael O’Keefe ………. Barry Grissom
Sydney Pollack ………. Marty Bach
Danielle Skraastad ………. Bridget Klein (voice)
Tilda Swinton ………. Karen Crowder
George Clooney ………. Michael Clayton

The Movie

There’s a point in Michael Clayton when the film takes the leap from being another great movie to being a masterpiece. It’s when the film’s titular character (George Clooney) needs his firm to bail him out of a particular situation. In doing so he has to give information that leads to a rather unfortunate event. When he hears about the event, Clayton looks deep inside his soul. He gave up nearly everything for $80,000. It’s a moment of pure genuflection from a character performed perfectly by an actor at the top of his game. It’s the point when Michael Clayton becomes the sort of film that earns its Oscar nomination.

Michael Clayton is a character study about a corporate fixer trying to save his firm, his friend and his soul but can’t do one without losing the others. It all begins with the firm’s highest profile case, some farmers suing a chemical company for a bad chemical, and the lawyer in charge of it (Tom Wilkinson) going off his medication that controls his manic-depressive disorder. Clayton is sent to fix the situation and finds himself getting deeper and deeper into a world that threatens both his soul and his life.

The film is a character study of people in various levels of bad situations, and Tony Gilroy seemingly has an easy job. Wilkinson and Clooney are at the top of their games; Wilkinson’s ranting and raving is fascinating to watch and totally engrossing. For a man who’s had a lot of underrated performances, he is on his game as a lawyer whose break from reality inspires the proceedings. Clooney is his usual top notch self, and the film revolves around the two’s interactions. There’s a genuine “chill moment” when the two are discussing a topic, with Wilkinson dropping a line of dialogue that is absolutely stunning in both its content and delivery. Clooney may be the headliner but Wilkinson’s performance is worth the price of admission. Clooney matches him, scene for scene, and it’s easily the best performance of his career.

Gilroy’s direction and story-telling match his actors’ performances as well. While most of what he has to do seemingly is not screw up the shot or the scene, he does a markedly good job of letting his actors tell the story and following suit. It’s simple story-telling; Gilroy is comfortable with the material and confident enough in a first-rate cast to allow for a much more relaxed story. He knows the setup, knows what he wants to do and lets the story grow organically. For a guy who’s scripted plenty of good films (the Jason Bourne trilogy for starters), he certainly has learned how to turn it from written page to reality. Everything about the film is carefully crafted, down to its low-key but powerful score.

Michael Clayton is one of the year’s best, hands down.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a Dolby Digital format, with a widescreen presentation, the film has a terrific audio/visual presentation. This is a film with a lot of color contrasts and scenic shots used throughout the film and they come through wonderfully. The audio is crisp and clear, using the system wonderfully. It’s absolutely pitch perfect.

The Extras

Deleted Scenes are included, with or without commentary from John and Tony Gilroy. Three in total, two were cut for time purposes and not quality purposes per the Gilroys and the other was for pacing. They don’t add much back into the film, though, but the first deleted scene where Clooney discusses his role with the firm with a partner is quite good.

Commentary from Gilroy and Film Editor John Gilroy is included, alongside a commentary with English Subtitles for the hearing impaired.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Michael Clayton
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

10.0
THE VIDEO

10.0
THE AUDIO

10.0
THE EXTRAS

2.0
REPLAY VALUE

9.5
OVERALL
9.0
(NOT AN AVERAGE)