Poetic and philosophical or grandiloquent and circumlocutory? For sure it will be the latter if you don’t turn on the subtitle while you watch this A-listers-studded circuitous but familiar story of drug trafficking, deception, femme fatale, and pissed off cartel. I think the A-list actors and director, Ridley Scott had saved this film. I also think the reason critics hated this cause without the subtitle, i.e., watched in theatre, some of the dialogues were totally incomprehensible, or might appear too highbrow. Let me give you an example: in the opening scene, The Counselor(Michael Fassbender), and his girlfriend, Laura, (Penélope Cruz) were in bed, covered completely in a white bed-sheet. Inside the sheet, they started to talk and make out, and Laura asked the Counselor to put his hand on her. He asked where. She said down there…and the Counselor worked his hand down, and said, “You are sopping”.
The story was nothing new, at the end of the day, people got screwed and got killed, which I think was flawed ( I will explain later).
The Counselor is a lawyer, who is involved in his first drug dealing with two other partners: Reiner(Javier Bardem), and Westray(Brad Pitt). He is also madly in love with Laura. Pay attention to the dialogues when the Counselor goes to see a diamond appraiser.
Reiner lives big. Big house, fast cars, beautiful girl friend, Malkina(Cameron Diaz), who owns two cheetahs. She loves to watch them hunt. Malkina is quite acrobatic, trained as an exotic dancer, she can certainly spread her legs, into perfect straight line. As usual I don’t want to spoil any fun, but will offer you these: jar, catfish, jar, gynecology, jar, smeared windshield of a yellow sport car. Reiner concedes women are his weakness.
Westray is a secretive man. Unlike Peacock Reiner, he lives in the shadow, and is smart with his money, and always has a plan B in his pocket. Westray concedes women are his weakness.
A truck that carries sewage is crossing the border between Mexico and Texas. They arrive at their destination. The truck belong to the three guys, except its State-side driver has been compromised, cause no one offers him a heads-up. The Counselor paid his fine for speeding, but he has no knowledge he is the driver. He was doing a favor for a drug lord or drug lord’s wife (Rosie Perez) pro-bono, and the driver was her son.
The beauty of the film was through the different (poetic) conversations between Reiner, Westray and the Counselor, he finds out how the cartel will deal with traitors and double dealers: methods they kill them. And into the third act, those methods were attested visually, which I think was very clever: descriptive first and visual later.
The scene between Laura and Malkina in their lounge chairs convinces me A-listers really are not just pretty faces. The expression and the immersion between Diaz and Cruz, at least for me, is worth to watch the entire film, and certainly Diaz’s gratuitous 75% exposed breasts under the towel didn’t hurt either.
Not to mention the lead’s, Fassbender, interactions with Westray and Reiner, and his final act of despair in his small run-down rent room in Mexico, were superb. In one scene between Pitt and Fassbender, you can sense the tension between the two, i.e., who will “out-act” the other! The only thing I didn’t get was Bardem’s hair, and wardrobe, I thought I was looking at Nicholas Cage.
Lastly the flaw: rich guys in dangerous business didn’t have entourage of body guards? Really?
WATCH…must turn on English subtitle to appreciate the remarkable dialogues.
P.S. David Cronenberg‘s Cosmpolis(2012) was just as verbose, star-studded, and poetic; however, cramping most of the actions and dialogues inside the limo was just too suffocating. Perhaps Cronenberg wanted the hallucinatory effects, i.e., oxygen deprivation, inside that claustrophobic limousine Robert Pattinson was in.