I was excited to see THE COUNSELOR because I love Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant writing and with him behind the screenplay how could you go wrong? I generally despise Ridley Scott films (with the exception of ALIEN which is flawless), but for once he actually got it right. I’ll go ahead and accept this as an apology for PROMETHEUS. The cast of THE COUNSELOR is fantastic. I was a little unsure of Cameron Diaz, but she really put it all on the table (to say the least).
The film mirrors many of the same themes of NO COUNTY FOR OLD MEN (also written by McCarthy). It even takes place in Hell Paso, Texas. The film highlights a botched crime/foiled plan. In this picture, Fassy exists as the man with no name a la Javier Bardem in NO COUNTRY.
Many complaints I’ve come across claim the film is too dialog heavy which confuses the hell out of me. Do these people realize it’s based on a book filled with dialog? These are the same people who complain when there’s not enough dialog like with ONLY GOD FORGIVES (which I also enjoyed immensely). There are several scenes featuring various soliloquies which I think adds to the mystery of each character. Some questions are answered, but many more questions are raised. I really loved the whole perplexity of this film.
I’ve also heard people criticize the character development in THE COUNSELOR. I feel like this was intentional. This film centers on Fassy’s character; all other characters are secondary. The film presents the total descent of one man. We virtually see Fassy’s character go from a confident, charming, cunning man to a scared, broken, shell of a man in less than two hours. Watching Fassy take on this transition was really fascinating and I could not picture a better actor taking on this role. Again, I am biased as I would watch him act in a Wheaties commercial but that’s neither here nor there.
Diaz has been accused of overacting; again something I believe was intentional. Her character was meant to be over the top and extremely exaggerated. Her pronounced movements and monologues were intended to be hyperboles. I also like the parallel metaphors with the cheetahs. The symbolism of the hunt & chase was really beautiful. Similarly, Penelope Diaz’s character was very one dimensional, another calculated move by the filmmaker. Cruz’s character exists as a symbol for purity and the utter corruption that destroys that purity as a direct result of Fassy’s greed. As much as I detest Ridley Scott, nothing he does is unfixed (even if it does not make sense) and I really admire the way he unraveled this mesmerizing story.
One of my favorite writers, Bret Easton Ellis also enjoyed THE COUNSELOR. He said,
“I liked the bloody feel-bad nihilism of Ridley Scott's THE COUNSELOR, a much-needed rejoinder to "noble" and "humanistic" movies everywhere. There's so much self-righteous hatred aimed at THE COUNSELOR because it dares to laugh darkly at the "Victims Are Our New Heroes" culture...”
If anything, go see this film for the car fucking scene alone.