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The Counselor

The Counselor

Love is being in bed with you, the rest is waiting.”
The Counselor, 2013

I love an opening scene of a film that delves immediately into love making. The relationship is sealed, it becomes the pivotal denominator during the film, and there is nothing else that can happen that can take that importance away. The movie opens with The Counselor (Michael Fassbinder) intimately lying under white sheets with Laura (Penelope Cruz). In this tender moment he asks her to say something sexy, “I want you to put your hands up my dress”, she says, “but you're not wearing a dress”, he coyly remarks, “What does that have to do with it?”, sighing, relishing the moment, then commenting, “You've ruined me”, completely foreshadowing the tragedy that will unfold.

For the rest of the film, it is this relationship that remains as the focus, and the demise of the Counselor, whose name we never find out, as he pursues his drug trafficking quest. In the mix is the Cartel, some gruesome well timed and calculated murders, two cheetahs, fast cars, and the evil ice princess hunter, Malkina (Cameron Diaz), who masterminds the events that lead to her wealth.

The Counselor is an unusual film in that it has been scripted by a novelist, Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country for Old Men and the clever writing drives the action forward, keeps the audience interested and listening hard for the philosophical brilliance in the script. The words are carefully chosen, lyrical, methodical and revelatory, yet the film cannot sustain its perfection. I feel that some of the editing and the story therefore, could have been tighter. There seem to be scenes that have been included, just for the sake of it, because the script included some interesting dialogue yet had nothing to do with driving the story. I couldn't understand why Malkina would even attempt a confession in Church, or why the viewer has to follow the drug runner's entry into his home, and feed his dog. There was no significance in either of these scenes. To be sure it is a well written script, there are some very talented actors, Brad Pitt included, directed well by Ridley Scott, yet the editing is disappointing. The film could have been better handled in Post, and this would have inadvertently cut some of the slack that it has received to date. There has to be so much care taken during Post or else the film will lose it's lustre.

Nevertheless it is worth seeing, especially for the quotes and the philosophical stance that McCarthy takes on greed, love, and life.

I suspect that we are ill-formed for the path we have chosen. Ill-formed and ill-prepared. We would like to draw a veil over all the blood and terror that have brought us to this place. It is our faintness of heart that would close our eyes to all of that, but in so doing it makes of it our destiny... But nothing is crueler than a coward, and the slaughter to come is probably beyond our imagining.

Definitely a film to see so we can say Hollywood got it nearly right.

Stella Dimadis


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