Why The Counselor is Amazing

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I know. Everyone hates it.
Fassbender, Cruz, Diaz, Bardem and Pitt in a Ridley Scott film fueled by a script by legendary novelist Cormac McCarthy? Of course it’s going to be a success! But it wasn’t. It got a 5.5 on imdb, 34% on rottentomatoes and was hated by fast-moving critics and audiences alike.
I’m not trying to support it nor do I wish to thrash it.
The film is amazing. Not in the conventional form that includes a strong plot, coherent dialogue and powerful character development. But because I found it impossible to construct an opinion on the film.
Cormac McCarthy pens a neo-noir with undertones of greed, death, human instinct, consequences and morals. The cast is talented. Ridley Scott presents an objective perspective. The depressing tone is classic McCarthy (being our favorite optimist) with nihilistic themes, where the bad guys win in the end. The visuals are stunning, as the camera shows barren deserts and open skies with gory lights. The style is reminiscent of some demented Shakespearean Tragedy with faults evident in the anti-hero and vile sin gleaming on the words of villains. The music is eerie setting us on edge as the story unfolds with long scenes with heavy dialogues marking impending doom.
However, drug lords with flamboyant hair styles, pet cheetahs, and contrastive designs seem out of place. Cheesy dialogue is everywhere. There is a lack of action as well. There are, nevertheless, scenes in the film which are so remarkable they change the entire aura, such as Westray’s death, the Biker’s decapitation and some scene involving a catfish (I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.)
There are two films hidden in The Counselor. The film it could have been and the film it is. The film it could have been has a quick pace, a complicated plot and an epic array of Scorsese-Tarantino references. But it doesn’t. Instead it is a contemplative film with slow philosophical monologues.
Studios chose commercial actors in a film with flashy trailers and stylistic posters. The marketing was quite bad. With the film’s opinions as split as Tree of Life (another Pitt film, mind you), it can only mean one thing.

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Cult classic.

In a few years, we shall see this film become appreciated by a small group of geeks. The rich texture of the film with its dark, violent scenes give it a fogged quality.
This film had potential to be a different film, a masterpiece. But like it’s characters, it had faults and that in itself was what made the film for me.

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