(Originally published in buzz magazine on 10/22/2009)
“I’m not a miracle worker,” says George Clooney in his role as Michael Clayton’s title character. “I’m a janitor.” Meaning not that he sweeps, mops and buffs dorm corridors twice a week, but that he does the dirty work for Kenner, Bach & Ledeen, a major New York City law firm.
Michael Clayton boasts great contrasting images of the macro and the micro of American white-collar business that adds meaning to the film. In quick succession, the cinematography presents us with close-ups of gyrating cart wheels, glances of gloomy office hallways and the ultimate image of modernity: an extreme long shot of a solitary ant-sized man (Michael Clayton) in a massive skyscraper. These images prompt moviegoers to ask, Is Michael Clayton really a hero? Is he a stand-out individual, or just one of a million? The conflicted look on Clooney’s face in the final shot makes it difficult to determine if the film ever answers these question.
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