Posted by: greercn | November 22, 2013

The Counsellor (The Counselor)

This downbeat film has a great deal going for it, yet feels false and nasty to watch. Ridley Scott’s trademark gorgeous visuals draw you in, but Cormac McCarthy’s script sounds more suited for the theatre than for the cinema.

Every character is extraordinarily articulate and that should be enjoyable yet you may not care what happens to any of the people.

A lawyer (hence cousellor or counselor) gets involved in a weird drug deal. This story spends a lot of time showing the violence and the minutiae of drug smuggling. With a dream cast of Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, there’s lots of human loveliness and A-list acting here.

Director Scott is trying to get actors to play against type and it just doesn’t work. This film could have used the undoubted chemistry between Cruz and her real-life husband, Bardem. Yet they are both with other people, on screen, with whom they have little or no chemistry.

Before the credits, there’s a sex scene between Fassbender and Cruz that just isn’t sexy. You are whizzed from gorgeous home to dingy back street through rainy Amsterdam and a curiously sunshine-bathed London, England.

Everyone feels doomed from the first time they open their mouths.

I enjoyed it a lot more than the rest of the Stratford East Picturehouse audience, judging by the complaints I heard on the way out. Unusually, thoe coming out of the screening were talking about it a lot and to strangers. They’d hoped for a thriller but saw a Greek-style tragedy.

If you liked “No Country For Old Men”, you might recognise themes and actors. But as terrible things happened to many of the people, I was neither shaken nor stirred.

Rosie Perez and Ruben Blades offer terrific performances here, but both are fleeting presences. Pity.

If you believe the person who dies with the most toys wins, there’s plenty of super consumer goods on offer to gawp at. The music’s great too.

Greek tragedy is meant to offer catharsis, which cleanses the viewer of bad feelings. I fear I am completely indifferent to this film. I can’t even be bothered to think about why a rich and successful lawyer, happy and in love, might risk everything for greed. Oh well. People do dumb things. Go figure.



  1. Good review Greer. This movie wasn’t a total misfire, as I feel like most of the cast really helps it out in many ways. However though, there are some problems here that nobody will ever seem to get past. And yes, I am talking about Cameron Diaz having sex with a car. That image will last in my mind forever.

  2. Yes, that’s a problem. All in all, the sex is just plain not sexy at all. Apparently, Angelina Jolie was originally cast in the Cameron Diaz role. Not sure that would have worked any better. Thanks for the comment!

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