First Hit: This is a Hollywood film that takes its time to unfold and provide a very substantive finish to which the audience spontaneously applauded.
All the acting in this film is first rate. Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, Tilda Swinton, and George Clooney all give fine performances.
The story focuses on Michael Clayton played by George who is the “janitor”, miracle man, or fixer for a heavy hitting law firm. The set up is well done as the film begins with a brief view of the future, then dials back 4 days to bring the audience up to speed, then moves the story forward to a wonderful conclusion.
The film takes it time to give the characters some depth. I really liked the flashes of Tilda preparing for her speeches and presentations.
Each character has its strengths and weaknesses and you see both sides to almost every person on the screen. This made the film feel full and real.
The direction of Tony Gilroy was excellent and the subtleness of some of the scenes was extraordinary. My favorite was in the initial set up we see Michael stop his car and walk up a hill and come face to face with grazing horses. Then nearing the end of the film he opens a copy of his son’s favorite book and there is a sketch of a hill with trees and horses.
Then the early scene replays and you now know why he stopped the car to walk up the hill to come face to face with the horses. This scene ties multiple aspects of this story together but doesn't hit you with a sledgehammer to do so.
Overall: When the audience is so involved in the film that the conclusion brings spontaneous applause you know this is a well crafted story and film.