The Counsellor (18)
by Ridley Scott
Starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz
From 15th November 2013
Not quite sure why it's called the counsellor. I suppose it sounds better
than 'the lawyer.' 'The counsellor' (Michael Fassbender) is a 'naïve'
and, one gathers, a less than successful lawyer. He has decided to hedge
his bets on a one time only get rich quick drug deal. Unwilling to take
the personal and 'business' advice from his dodgy connections about the
pitfalls, he decides to gamble all to make his fortune.
And what has made him do this? Well, the counsellor is in 'love' with
Laura (Penelope Cruz) and he wants to impress her and secure their life
together. But in the meantime the flirtatious cold hearted, aging Malkina
(Cameron Diaz), is in a relationship with Reiner (Javier Bardem), 'the
counsellor's' drug dealing friend, and Malkina is much more sophisticated
and ruthless than them all.
The Counsellor is more a psychological and philosophical movie, maybe
more akin psychologically to 'Scarface' than 'Goodfellows', but without
the action and the characters. Its major statement is that there is no
half measures. Once you've made the walk over to the dark side there is
no going back.
At moments the counsellor is gripping, it is intelligent, with psychosocial
and philosophical intensity.
My criticism is the film crisscrosses itself with very little structure
and struggles to tie the various subplots together. The film peaked two
thirds the way through and spent the last third trying to tie these loose
ends together. The characters, with the exception of the characters played
by Fassbender and Diaz, are paper-thin. In fact Diaz is excellent, but
the 'love' that drives the counsellor to the once in a life time deal,
is hardly credible, maybe that is the point. Some might argue the film
is misogynist, in the fact that the women in the film are to blame for
the downfall of all the men. But despite these criticisms the film is
well worth a watch. Its strength is in the questions it raises, and exploration
of the depths that humans can sink when they follow their greed. It offers,
unlike other gangster films, no romantic notions about the underworld.