Monday, March 3, 2008
Michael Clayton: The Only Thing That Could Be More Unrealistic Than Its Portrayal of Bipolar Mania is If I Suggested that I Bear Any Resemblance to George Clooney (although I look a little like Tilda Swinton by the end of a 100 minute class)
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw
Alan has challenged me to address his speculations.
I didn't want to see Michael Clayton, even though I heard it was good. I have never seen Erin Brockovitch or A Civil Action. Yes, it's true that I was the general counsel of a large chemical company, and that's no doubt the reason. I have steadfastly refused to sit through any so-called "entertainment" in which I (or someone like me) is the villain ever since my daughter Arielle (now a grad student in theater at Columbia) was in the 8th grade, and wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a play called Lily's Life. This was the touching story of a girl with cystic fibrosis, in which the incomparably evil character was the FATHER, played by Arielle herself, since she had just fired the boy actor she had originally cast. I can still remember, when his utter venality came out, everybody in the audience turned around and stared at me with "you son-of-a-bitch" in their eyes. (What's worse is that Lily's Life played for years after on the local access channel of the Birmingham, Michigan school district.)
But Matt, my son, was home, and in a moment of father-son bonding, I agreed to watch Michael Clayton with him.
It was a good movie. But I have low standards, namely whether I fall asleep or not. Others, as Alan points out, have better points about the technical legal issues than I. Two things jumped out at me. (1) I thought Tilda Swinton's portrayal of the angst and distinction between the private moments of preparation and the public performance were accurate in an atmospheric sort of way, and (2) I have had experience dealing with people who are in manic stages of bipolar disorder, and there's no way that Tom Wilkinson went from being naked at a deposition (including running around in the parking lot) and screaming "I am Shiva, the Goddess of Death" to getting on an airplane and making it back to New York where he is together enough to buy fourteen loaves of bread. In real life, even if he makes it to the airport, he's locked up before he goes through security.