Thursday, 28 November 2013

at our noblest we announce to the darkness that we will not be diminished by the brevity of our lives

Last night I went to The Counselor, the latest Ridley Scott offering with a BIG cast. The Counselor is not a film for the faint-hearted. I don't know whether you have seen other Cormac McCarthy penned films, up until now they have been based on his novels. No Country for Old Men, The Road...These are bleak portrayals of human existence.  
The Counselor is confronting and depressing. But also beautiful. It is hard to follow because there is no concession to back story or explanation. As the viewer we feel as though we have entered the party half way through and we're missing something. This is intentional. It is very violent. There is a lot of sexual depravity discussed, if not demonstrated. And the dialogue is slick and clever and completely inauthentic. Nobody talks the way these characters do, quoting Keats and Marlowe and coming out with particularly laconic and memorable utterances. But I kind of wish I did talk like that.
The director and writer present a hyper-fictional world. But this is also intentional. I think the film is about crossing the line. Going over to the dark side and then no longer having any choices. As the diamond merchant tells the Counselor, ‘once the first cut is made, there is no going back. […] We see a troubling truth in that the forms of our undertakings are complete at their beginnings’. In a sort of fraught philosophical analogy, determinism and human agency are illustrated in a heightened context. When we get to a certain point, there is no longer choice, there is only acceptance.

I don't know that I would recommend this film to everyone. But for all that, it is clever and I appreciated the fact that it made me think and wonder and try and piece things together. But it is very dark. And disturbing. 

As is the underbelly of our sanitized lives.

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