Michael Clayton

Rated 3.0

George Clooney is a “fixer” for a high-powered corporate law firm. Part of the deal in this oblique legal thriller is that there are a couple of other people whose stories have crucial impact on Michael and the plot. Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkerson), Clayton’s mentor and esteemed colleague, has a bizarre emotional breakdown during a deposition in a big-bucks class-action suit, and Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), Clayton’s counterpart in the corporation that Arthur is ostensibly defending, emerges as an enigmatic and increasingly dangerous player in the corporation’s efforts to do some extra-legal—and lethal—fixing of its own. Initially, with its fragmented time scheme and bizarre juxtapositions, this production has the aura of a rather somber and paradoxical art film. Director Tony Gilroy maintains that somber, detached tone throughout, but the storyline steadies itself into conventional clarifications and resolutions in the second half. Gilroy’s methods add a certain fascination to the film, but they also prove annoying and worse, especially insofar as he has used them to jigger up a sort of pseudo-suspense by arbitrarily delaying basic bits of narrative information.