Starring: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt - Dir: Ridley Scott
Very few people I know like The Counselor. It is not an easy film to like, though part of the negative reaction is because most people were expecting something different. The reason they were expecting that is because of the names involved. Look at the cast! And the director! And it comes from the pen of one of America’s most respected novelists, Cormac McCarthy. What could possibly go wrong?
I’ve watched it three times and am fascinated by that question. There is so much that is hypnotically good here, and the film is so unwaveringly strange - which I mean as a compliment - that it’s almost hard to admit that it’s a kinda slow motion train wreck.
Cormac McCarthy previously wrote No Country For Old Men and this follows a similar plot outline: an innocent gets involved in a drug deal; when it goes wrong the bad guys take horrible revenge. Fassbender is the titular innocent, drawn into the web by friend Bardem (sporting another outstanding hairdo). Circling are Pitt and the two women. But where No Country... had a touch of Coen brothers’ humour and the reassuring presence of Tommy Lee Jones (who actually played no part in the action), this has neither.
Giving Scott his due, it looks stunning. Diaz and Cruz have never looked as ravishingly beautiful. But the screenplay, McCarthy’s first direct for the screen...? It’s wildly overwritten, revelling in language but full of extended obtuse speech-making, making the film cold, nasty, perverse, infinitely sad and oddly theatrical.
I really enjoyed it; you may not.
(NB: For some reason they’ve used the American title here. The correct spelling is “Counsellor”)