Michael Clayton, and more on Lust, Caution

Michael Clayton

When I heard that the writer of Bourne series worked even harder on the script of Michael Clayton (George Clooney), I decided to go see it with PNGF even though I had no idea what it was about. I knew it had something to do with lawyers... so it's got to be some struggle between good and evil. Someone mentioned it was Oscar-worthy too.

Well, I came out the theater satisfied while slightly disappointed. Satisfied because there were some fine performances and the movie was overall captivating and meaningful. Slightly disappointed because it was so predictable. (Not Oscar worthy, by the way... maybe the supporting cast)

Back when I worked for AG, one of my colleagues decided to go to public policy because she often found that our clients are not "worth defending" because they make so much money. This movie would be perfect for her.

Anyway, the movie is less about the evil corporation. Michael Clayton is the focus of the movie. The movie is about the transformation of a person. A series of events have planted the seeds for Michael's transformation and one big change just lit the fire (quite literally). I think one of the key questions I came out asking myself is how long can one person be in a shitty situation. Michael kept taking it in the movie: from his friend, his boss, his firm, his client, his family. In fact, this is a man who takes shit for a living. Reason? Because he has bent over and accepted it. I will not be that person... and I also thought seriously on whether I will be the person who gives shit. No answer on that one yet.

Verdict: Go see it.


Last time I mentioned excessive sex scenes in Lust, Caution, an anonymous comment linked to a HK commentator who discussed why the sex scenes were necessary. My response: yes, for some audiences. No, if those scenes switch the attention to sex - something we as humans do on a regular basis. People in Hong Kong make this into such a big deal. Sure, the three scenes have more love involved progressively. I think that's quite obvious. Some of the positions are quite provocative and have meaning of more compatibility between the two characters. I understand all that. What I also understand is that the focus is shifted to the superficial visual understanding of the story. Most of the audience come away talk about balls and boobs and sex. And that bothers me.

May the record show that Lust, Caution is not about sex! It is about forbidden love and how love does not trump all. Reality does. Situation does. Fear governs the male lead - the scene where he dives into the car in escape ranks as one of the funniest moments in such a serious movie. Love and loyalty governs the female lead - her constant struggle between the sides is painful to fathom. Patriotism governs another male lead - he is so blinded by the grandeur of nationalism that he misses the love that is in front of his eyes (which could have ironically saved everybody).

Yet when push comes to shove, reality takes over. People die because of love. People survive because of reality. And that's what Ang Lee is trying to tell us.

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