George Clooney not so much stars in the film Michael Clayton as anchors the serious talent of supporting roles that move the action of the picture. Michael is a corporate fixer, a former lawyer who found that his niche, what he is best at, has gotten him into a long rut that he doesn’t have a way out of and is getting deeper by the minute. The excellent Tom Wilkinson, his firm’s ace lawyer, has just stripped down naked, literally, in a three-billion-dollar lawsuit deposition. His unsubtle announcement alerts all the players that the architect of the pharmaceutical giant’s defense might just be having a serious change of heart and might switch sides. Michael is brought in to calm the situation before it explodes.
The film Michael Clayton, like its titular character, has a quiet intensity, intrigue, and charm. There are many moments of silence in the film, where characters convey feelings and attitude with a glance or long look, but the movie never feels slow or burdened by “acting”. That quiet intensity burns in the silences, the pauses, making the beating heart of the film palpably felt. Engaging and excellent from start to finish.