...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

October 14, 2007

Michael Clayton - 7

By naming this film after the main character, Tony Gilroy (Bourne trilogy) makes it obvious that this is a character study. Michael Clayton (George Clooney) has a hectic and fragmented life. He owes people money, he has a stressful job in a law firm dealing with other's problems, and his family has fallen apart. Its enough to make anyone want to think about running- leaving it all behind for some place to just be left alone. That isn't an easy choice, especially when you realize that you might not want to be with anyone, much less yourself. These questions and thoughts come to the fore as Clayton is dealing with renowned lawyer Authur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), who is dealing with his own issues of conscience about what he has done with his abilities to reveal and hide the truth. CEO Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), realizing that Eden could jeopardize her hard work to climb the corporate ladder has her own crisis of conscience.
The questions of who we are and who we are becoming is intimately tied up in what we think is just and right and the ways we pursue these ideals. Michael Clayton explores the moral complexity of living with so many choices, and our responses of running or confronting them. It tests one's ability to care about their personal choices, as they seem removed and insignificant to one's public life. And rather than fall into an easy cynicism, the film goes about showing its tagline false. This film has the depth of character and story to allow the space for good questions and self reflection.
Reading Steven Garber on proximate justice makes a nice connection to this film.

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