Review: The Counselor – film
Contains some spoiler alerts!
Watched at the Errol Flynn Cinema in Northampton I found The Counselor (Annoyingly spelt with one L) over stylised, riddled with clichéd existential one liners and Fassbender masters how to talk throughout the whole film in a deep husky whisper. Unfortunately this film left me frowning in a state of confusion and miming ‘wtf was that?’ to my amigos including writer (poet and screenwriter) pal Ashaur Rahman, who simply shrugged and looked as baffled after almost EVERY scene as I did. Don’t get me wrong; I’m an existential nihilist at the best (and worst-mostly worst) of times but I don’t go about my daily routine surrounding my responses, to the simplest of tasks, with metaphoric meaning.
‘At our noblest, we announce to the darkness that we will not be diminished by the brevity of our lives’
‘I just wanted the fucking butter…would you just pass it already?’
The dialogue is beautifully crafted but its rhetoric is all off and way too over the top. I don’t buy into the film as a whole because of its repetitive nature and characterisation. However the reasoning, irrationality and absurdity of what HAPPENS to them is executed in a way that could lead to various different endings: the beauty of existentialism. Which I get but even this felt forced.
The most re-quoted line since its release: ‘Truth has no temperature’ followed by a smug pout, by Malkina (played by Cameron Diaz), is probably one of the most popular. It of course means nothing and adds no value to the film. It simply allows her to look super cool as she sits back in the middle of a desert whilst sipping on a martini watching her beloved pet Cheetah’s chase a rabbit – as you do! So far removed from reality is this film that all it seems to care about are the outlandish costumes, lavish settings and death in the most extreme ways – which Malkina then gets to babble on about at the end about how sexual she finds it all. The more brutal the more sexual it is.
As if that wasn’t annoying enough, Diaz’s constant pouting looks of disapproval and nonchalant attitude left a big question mark over her acting abilities. Playing the evil Cruella de ville, only obsessed with Cheetah’s instead of Dalmations, her performance felt over-acted, unbelievable and under performed but hey…she looked good and for some viewers – that’s all we care about!
Playing the don at the very top of the chain, in the underground drug market, Malkina’s character had the potential to bend female stereotypes and really push the boundaries when it came to authority and power especially as a character leading the whole operation. Instead Ridley Scott chose to make her more concerned with looks, her sexuality, and wealth. I understand that this hides her psychological scars but unfortunately doesn’t create enough of a 4 dimensional character as say Vito Corleone in The Godfather. I know they’re incomparable but we like Corleone as a character and aren’t constantly annoyed by his one liners, and he definitely doesn’t need to be sexy to do his job, so why does Malkina? Why didn’t I care?
Immersed in an elite culture of diamonds, drug barons and penthouses the Counselor (played by Fassbender – the only actor holding the film together) is asked to complete a job that goes completely pear shaped, leaving him in a bubbling snot induced mess.
But it seems like it needs to go pear shaped for these ‘cool’ conversations to take place, rather than organically – so although I liked the plot it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s thoroughly engaging and without its flaws.
One scene which wins the most ‘full of itself’ award is Malkina’s rendezvous with the windscreen of a very lavish car. Yep she…fucks a car! Which leaves Reiner (played by Bardem) comparing the whole experience to like watching the mouths of shellfish bottom feeders.
Filled with an A-list cast this film was more about the looks than the substance and unfortunately gives out the wrong incompetent message that I’m surprised even Pitt, Cruz and Fassbender wanted in on. Perhaps the words seemed so appealing on the page, it would invite even the most humblest of actors a great ego boost. As quoted in the Telegraph ‘Its an actors’ paradise’.
On a final note, Fassbenders decision to retreat his lost love from the slums of Mexico, sets up the ending perfectly to suggest that materialism means nothing when it comes to love and loss.