Film review: The Counselor

Novelist Cormac McCarthy is known for his somber vision of humanity, and the two best-known films made from his work, the Academy Award–winning No Country for Old Men and the harrowing post-apocalyptic The Road, were both shrouded in a suffocating pessimism about the direction of the world.

Such pessimism is on minimal display in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, which doesn’t even have a touch of the McCarthy melancholy we would expect and instead the images are crisp, imbued with a stark clarity that is wholly at odds with the clumsy narrative. Although the content is far from joyful, and the film contains countless scenes of people getting killed whom we would have preferred to see alive, the overwhelming sense of doom of the other two films is almost entirely absent from this one.

The titular “Counselor,” otherwise nameless for whatever reason, is the main character. Irishman Michael Fassbender brings an indefinable and entirely appropriate accent to the role, providing him with just the right amount of enigma. He is a lawyer who lives a happy life in the border town of El Paso, Texas, and has just proposed to his girlfriend, the fragile and religious Laura (Penélope Cruz).

This utopia of their existence soon disappears, however, when he decides to take part in a drug operation that is high risk but even higher reward.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post. The Counselor is currently on wide release in Bulgaria.

(Still of Javier Bardem and Michael Fassbender in The Counselor. Photo by Kerry Brown – © 2013 – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.)