Review: The Counselor

Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in Ridley Scott's The Counselor.
Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor.

Thelma & Louise feels like a long time ago.
Rating: *

The Counselor is a blow to our senses. And our expectations. I certainly didn’t expect a shoddy two-hour motion picture from either Ridley Scott or screenwriter Cormac McCarthy.

Michael Fassbender plays the titular Counselor who gets in over his head, and indulges in a drug trade that involves a shady man called Reiner (Javier Bardem) even though another shady man named Westray (Brad Pitt) warns him not to. Phew!

This trade of course is defied by the brutal Mexican drug cartel, who have become a go-to nemesis in most crime films involving cocaine and gangs.

There seems to be a message in this film. Go down the bad path, and bad shit will happen to you.

Surely, there could have been an easier way of telling us that instead of making this incomprehensible mess. The Counselor, being a Ridley Scott film feels more like a Tony Scott film. There’s that slickness in editing and cinematography, that Ridley generally ignores, and Tony embraces. Sadly, the dialogue is nowhere close to either of their creations.

Screenwriter McCarthy has visited the wrong aisle in the library. Instead of taking dialogue that is as conventional as a Tarantino film, the monologues sound more like George Bernard Shaw or even Shakespeare. While explaining greed, one of the key characters, Malkina (Cameron Diaz in a nightmarish role) says:

“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 crueller than a coward, and the slaughter to come is probably beyond our imagining.”

Even when I was 100 minutes into the film, I thought Scott would pull away from the misery by adding one of two thrilling set pieces. None of which happens.


Review: A Good Year (2006)

Theatrical Poster of A Good Year
Theatrical Poster of A Good Year

A Romantic Comedy On The Rocks

A Good Year (2006) (PG-13)

Directed By: Ridley Scott

Cast: Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard and Albert Finney

Rating: ***

What do we really require to live a good life? It’s certainly a good job, a good apartment, a good car, a good mistress, a good fortune and a good year. Directed by Ridley Scott, pay no heed. Just pick it up and watch it. It’s quite a rollicking adventure from Long Live England to Viva La France. A Good Year is also produced by Scott and is based on the book by Peter Mayle. The film is visually arresting and irresistible. It has an amazing cast. It includes Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish and Freddie Highmore. The film has quite a simple storyline but what it evokes in you is laughter and enjoyment. Bearing in mind that A Good Year is a romantic comedy, it won’t make you turn bitter watching the same lovesick people squabble among each other. The film is based on women and wine.

Max Skinner is a British trader who gets news of his uncle’s death. His uncle who happens to be his only surviving (now dead) relative hasn’t written any will and thus his property in France will be inherited by Max. Max’s first intention is to sell the estate and the vineyard which his uncle has left behind. But, trouble lands when Uncle Henry’s illegitimate daughter Christie Richards arrives to the estate. Fearing that the illegitimate daughter may have a claim, Max tries his best to ward off Christie. Soon, he learns that Christie has no intention of staying in France and decides to go back to California. Halfway through the film, we’re introduced to Fanny Chenal who seems to know a lot about Max. The mystery lies in the flashback. Does Max go back to the estate or does he stay rich in London. That forms the crux of A Good Year which I would call an artistic rom-com by Ridley Scott. The film is pepped up with humor which will certainly tickle your bones.

Now, we all have seen films with French Romance or to put in plain words, Romance in the French country with a French woman. Two Days In Paris is an awesome example of French Romance. But, the problem is that Two Days In Paris is more of a mature one while A Good Year is a fancy one. It is something which will keep you smiling throughout. Ever since Last Tango In Paris, screenwriters have always wanted their scripts to contain more French and less horrific English whenever it comes to writing a scene where the location is France. You see that here too. That’s where Scott’s gone soft. Marc Klein’s unabashed script is faulty at times. But, Scott and his crew do their best to keep up the film’s pace.

As Max Skinner, Russell Crowe proves a mighty jig. His fast-forward life and the way he speaks British English and juggles between some less profound curse words is something we would’ve seen in his previous films. As the young Max Skinner, Freddie Highmore does a good job just like his older counterpart. As Uncle Henry, Albert Finney lives a short role which he sweetens to the tip. As Henry’s illegitimate daughter Christie, Abbie Cornish makes a mark. But, the best performance with less screen time is Marion Cotillard’s Fanny Chenal.

A Good Year is a sweet tale. Bear in mind it’s a tale and don’t expect your livid reality to be screened. It is simply about two manly desires – Women & Wine.