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Movie Review: Michael Clayton

Alternate Title: Erin Brockovich meets The Insider

Story: I will not be evasive about this one. I loved this film. It is intelligent, stylish, tense, dark, well written, has great acting and it's icy blue canvas chills you to the bone. This is the debut directorial piece of Tony Gilroy who also wrote the screenplay. Bravo Mr. Gilroy.

Michael Clayton is an in-house 'fixer' for a giant law firm. If any of it's clients have messy problems he manages to make them go away. He is a conflicted character with a myriad of personal demons. The lawyer handling the firm's largest class action case has a breakdown and Clayton is sent in to 'fix' the problem. The firm represents a giant chemical company against the small farmers suing for damages claiming the chemicals caused death and illness.

The film is about corporate greed versus the public need, conscience, morality, right and wrong. It is about the price we are willing to pay to be bought off. The themes are not new but the retelling of this morality tale is worth your time.

Be warned that you will have to pay attention and think. You should not take any popcorn or comfort breaks during this film.

Acting: George Clooney as Michael Clayton is first rate. He is not the cocky, handsome dude we sometimes see in those Ocean films. He is a complex, still very handsome dude who tackles enormous problems. Tom Wilkinson as the lawyer who breaks down turns in another terrific performance. Tilda Swinton as the chief counsel for the chemical company is brilliant. Sydney Pollack, Michael O'Keefe and Ken Howard are all first rate too. Great casting, all around.

Predilection: I like George Clooney and I liked Gilroy's other scripts including: The Bourne Series, Proof of Life, The Devil's Advocate nd Dolores Claiborne.

Critters: Three horses

Food: Breakfast cereal, birthday cake and french bread

Sex Spectrum: There was absolutely no time for sex in this white knuckler but there was some conversation about two Lithuanian hookers and their services.

Soundtrack: Appropriately tense.

Visual Art: A beautiful bone chilling canvas by cinematography by Robert Elswit

Theater Audience: Very crowded for a Tuesday afternoon.

Weather: It is winter in the Midwest and in NYC. It is cold and blue.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Corporate greed and its excesses make me squirm

Drift Factor: I did not drift for a nano second.

Predictability Level: Moderately high.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Yes

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Tilda Swinton's other work you can rent: The War Zone, Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon and the fabulous, Orlando

Length: Under two hours