The Counsellor is directed by Ridley Scott, and stars Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz in a thrillingly nihilistic story of money, greed and death. When the titular counsellor (Fassbender) is lured into a lucrative drug deal, and his world begins to crumble from the consequences.
I’ve seen several reviews of this film that denounce it for its nihilistic view of the world (Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of death in this film) – but I actually really like this dark perspective, that one decision immoral enough can change the world around you. I also really liked the characters – Malkina (Diaz) especially, just because she creates such an intensely terrifying atmosphere in her scenes. Reiner (Bardem) was interesting because his personality and clothes reflect a very extravagant character, but when he discusses his relationship with Malkina he becomes very subdued, as if he fears her as much as he fears losing her. I wish more detail had been given to Laura (Penelope Cruz) the Counsellor’s girlfriend. I feel like more dramatic feeling could have been found in more frequent interactions between the two of them, rather than her disappearing for what seemed like a significant chunk of the film. The dialogue in this film can be a bit of a mixed bag – dancing on the line between perfectly subtle and marginally too slow in certain scenes. In a way, it’s easy to tell that The Counsellor is the first original screenplay written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men was based on his book of the same name, but the screenplay was penned by the Coen brothers). This isn’t a bad thing – as I’ve said a lot of scenes do work very well, and I happen to like the selection of characters in this film more than the characters in No Country for Old Men – but what might be a problem is the lack of an obviously gratifying payoff. For me, the ending worked well, it was full of emotional impact – but I think some people who watch the trailer and see the implication of extensive gun use and violence might expect something a bit more in-your-face.
The narrative here is good, as are the characters, but Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay is a bit fast and loose with its pacing, and ends on a note that might not immediately gratify everybody (a bit like No Country for Old Men) I was drawn to it because of its nihilistic view of greed and death, and I like that it comments on morality without shoving it down your throat.