Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Michael Clayton

I saw Michael Clayton on Saturday and I recommend it. Good acting, suspenseful, etc.

But, as a lawyer, I have a few thoughts about its depiction of life at large firms.

First, it got some of the details right -- especially the associates in the hotel room having no idea what to do when the partner becomes indisposed. But a lot of things wrong. Hilariously, at one point, they talk about how much discovery they've done in the case and mention 400 depositions (an absurdly high number) and 85,000 documents (an absurdly low number). They also talk about how the partners went out for drinks when the number of billable hours on the case hit 30,000. Again, for a nationwide class action that's been going on for 6 years, that's nothing.

Second, it's really strange to watch George Clooney talk about document review!

Third, I really like very realistic movies, a style that I associate with the 1970s. A recent example of a movie in this genre is The Insider. I think that's what Michael Clayton was going for, but it missed the mark. The bad guys were too bad, which made the ethical dilemmas the characters faced too easy. It's too bad because I think that there's an interesting movie to be made about how much power corporations have, the pressures on individuals within that world to bend the rules, how the rules and gamesmanship and legal system can blind you to the underlying truth and fairness of the matter. But this isn't that movie. [Spoiler alert!] I mean, the managing partner at a major law firm would not let a client destroy key documents. And the general counsel at a major corporation wouldn't have people killed to keep the truth from coming out.

But don't let that dissuade you from seeing it. P.S. The tracking shot at the end is a thing of beauty.


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