The Counselor

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The Counselor
The Counselor Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRidley Scott
Produced byRidley Scott
Nick Wechsler
Steve Schwartz
Paula Mae Schwartz
Written byCormac McCarthy
StarringMichael Fassbender
Cameron Diaz
Javier Bardem
Penélope Cruz
Brad Pitt
Music byDaniel Pemberton
CinematographyDariusz Wolski
Editing byPietro Scalia
StudioScott Free Productions
Nick Wechsler Productions
Chockstone Pictures
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 3, 2013 (2013-10-03) (Leicester Square)
  • October 25, 2013 (2013-10-25) (United States)
  • November 15, 2013 (2013-11-15) (United Kingdom)
Running time117 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million[2]
Box office$63,694,624[3]
 
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The Counselor
The Counselor Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRidley Scott
Produced byRidley Scott
Nick Wechsler
Steve Schwartz
Paula Mae Schwartz
Written byCormac McCarthy
StarringMichael Fassbender
Cameron Diaz
Javier Bardem
Penélope Cruz
Brad Pitt
Music byDaniel Pemberton
CinematographyDariusz Wolski
Editing byPietro Scalia
StudioScott Free Productions
Nick Wechsler Productions
Chockstone Pictures
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 3, 2013 (2013-10-03) (Leicester Square)
  • October 25, 2013 (2013-10-25) (United States)
  • November 15, 2013 (2013-11-15) (United Kingdom)
Running time117 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million[2]
Box office$63,694,624[3]

The Counselor (spelled The Counsellor in some markets) is a 2013 American thriller film directed by Ridley Scott, from the first original film screenplay by Cormac McCarthy. The film stars Michael Fassbender as the titular Counselor, who gets in over his head in a drugs deal around the troubled Juarez, Mexico / Texas border area, as well as Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Brad Pitt and deals with themes of greed, death, and the primal instincts of humans and their consequences.

The Counselor was chosen as the closing film at the 2013 Morelia Film Festival and also played the Cork Film Festival. The London premiere was held on October 3, 2013 in Leicester Square. The New York City premiere was held on October 9, 2013. The film has received mixed reviews from critics and was theatrically released on October 25, 2013.

Plot[edit]

The story begins with a man, known only as "The Counselor" (Michael Fassbender) and his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz), lying in bed and flirting. Somewhere in Mexico, cocaine is being packaged in barrels and concealed in a sewage truck. The truck is driven across the border and stored at a sewage treatment plant. The Counselor goes to Amsterdam on what he claims is a business trip, but is actually a meeting with a diamond dealer (Bruno Ganz) in order to purchase an engagement ring for Laura. Back in the United States, The Counselor proposes to Laura, and she accepts. Later, he attends a party at a house owned by Reiner (Javier Bardem) and his girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz). The Counselor and Reiner have a lengthy discussion, during which Reiner claims that The Counselor is not capitalizing on his position of power as much as he could be. The Counselor meets with Westray (Brad Pitt), a business associate, to express interest in a drug deal with a four-thousand percent return rate.

Westray warns The Counselor about becoming involved in such a deal, saying that Mexican cartels are merciless, particularly to lawyers. Later, The Counselor visits one of his clients, a prison inmate named Ruth (Rosie Perez) who is on trial for murder. Ruth's son is a biker and a high-level cartel member known as "The Green Hornet" recently arrested for speeding. The Counselor agrees to bail him out of jail. Malkina employs "The Wireman" (Sam Spruell) to steal the drugs. He does this by decapitating the biker with a wire stretched across the highway. After collecting the component that will allow the sewage truck to start, The Wireman drives to the sewage treatment plant, where he steals the truck containing the cocaine. Learning of this incident, Westray calls The Counselor to notify him that The Green Hornet is dead and the cocaine has been stolen.

What is more, both Ruth and the cartel link The Counselor to the death of the biker and the theft of the drugs. The cartel has found that he bailed out The Green Hornet, which appears as suspect timing. The Counselor seeks help from Reiner but receives nothing more than Reiner telling him that his fate is sealed. In Texas, two cartel members pretending to be police officers pull over The Wireman and his accomplice. A shootout ensues when the accomplice shoots and kills one of the "officers" and wounds the other. The wounded cartel member manages to kill the accomplice and The Wireman, accidentally shooting the sewage truck and gunning down a passing-by driver. Reiner is accidentally killed by cartel members while attempting to capture him, and Laura is simultaneously kidnapped. In a last-ditch effort, The Counselor contacts Jefe (Rubén Blades), a high-ranking cartel member, for information on the whereabouts of Laura, Reiner and Westray. Jefe advises The Counselor to live with the choices he has made, even refusing his offer to switch places with Laura.

After the truck is fixed and the wounded cartel member is cared for, he goes to the meeting location where the buyer (Dean Norris) gets his cocaine. The Counselor goes back to Mexico, hoping to find Laura. A package is slipped under the door of his hotel room. He opens it and finds a DVD with "Hola!" written on the side. The Counselor breaks down completely, heavily implying that the disk contains an execution video of Laura from the cartel. Laura's decapitated body is dumped at a landfill. Meanwhile, Malkina's failed effort to steal the drugs means that she is out the money she wants. She tracks Westray in London, hires a woman (Natalie Dormer) to seduce him and steal his bank codes. She then has Westray brutally killed to get his computer to access the account. Malkina then meets her banker (Goran Višnjić) at an expensive restaurant. They talk about how she should use her money. She advises him that he is in over his head and that he needs to get out of the business because if need be, he would be expendable. They turn to what to order and the film ends with her saying "I'm famished".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Pre-production[edit]

On January 18, 2012, it was reported that novelist Cormac McCarthy had sold his first spec script, The Counselor, to Nick Wechsler, Paula Mae Schwartz, and Steve Schwartz, who had previously produced the film adaptation of McCarthy's novel The Road.[5] On January 31, it was reported that Ridley Scott was currently considering several directorial projects, but that there was a strong possibility that The Counselor would be his next film and his follow-up to Prometheus.[6] On February 9, it was confirmed that Scott would direct.[7]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on July 27, 2012 in London. The film was also shot in Spain and the United States.[8] On August 20, 2012, Scott halted production of the film due to his brother Tony's death. He canceled that week's shoot in order to travel to Los Angeles to be with his brother's family.[9] Scott returned to London to resume production on September 3.[10]

The film was dedicated to the memory of Tony Scott, who had taken his own life during production, and Matthew Baker, an assistant director on the film who has since died.[11]

The first teaser trailer was released June 25, 2013.

Design[edit]

Costume designer Janty Yates collaborated with Giorgio Armani on the film as a part of a new partnership between Armani and 20th Century Fox that also extends into retail and digital initiatives.[12] Armani was enlisted to create the wardrobes for the characters portrayed by Michael Fassbender and Penélope Cruz.[13] In addition to Armani, designer Paula Thomas also contributed to the film's wardrobe by dressing Cameron Diaz's character, Malkina, with roughly 15 different outfits.[14] "[It wasn't until] I read the script that I realized why [Scott] called upon me," said Thomas. "[Cameron's] character has a lot of elements of a Thomas Wylde woman. [She's] bold, edgy, modern. She’s about wanting to be seen, as opposed to blending into the background."[15]

For Javier Bardem's character, Yates applied a widely colorful wardrobe that was mostly made up of pieces of Versace.[15] As for Bardem's hair, the idea was the actor's own and inspired by film producer Brian Grazer's hairdo.[16]

Music[edit]

The film score to The Counselor was composed by Daniel Pemberton.[17] Pemberton recorded the score with a full orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in addition to integrating home-recorded guitar noises and textures.[18] "Ridley responds really well to interesting and unusual sounds," explained Pemberton on the composer-director relationship. "So as a composer who likes making unusual sounds, that’s exciting. It was daunting but he was great to work with and up for experimenting. [...] He made the process a lot less scary than it should have been."[19] A soundtrack album was released digitally on October 22 and in physical forms on November 11, 2013 by Milan Records.[20]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Preliminary reports had The Counselor tracking for a $8.6–$13 million debut in North America.[21][22] The film opened to $3.2 million in 3,336 locations on Friday and opened at #4 in the box office with just a cumulative $7,842,930 over the weekend.[23]

Critical response[edit]

The Counselor has received mixed reviews. The film currently holds a 35% approval rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 182 reviews, with an average score of 4.9/10. The consensus reads: "The Counselor raises expectations with its talented cast and creative crew—then subverts them with a wordy and clumsy suspense thriller that's mercilessly short on suspense or thrills."[24] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 48 based on 42 reviews, considered to be "mixed or average reviews".[25] It received an average grade of "D" from market-research firm CinemaScore.[26]

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review calling it "not a very likable or gratifying film," adding that "one is left with a very bleak ending and an only slightly less depressing sense of the waste of a lot of fine talent both behind and in front of the camera."[27] The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan stated, "as cold, precise and soulless as the diamonds that figure briefly in its plot, The Counselor is an extremely unpleasant piece of business."[28] Peter Debruge of Variety criticized Cormac McCarthy's script, saying that his "first original script is nearly all dialogue, but it's a lousy story, ineptly constructed and rendered far too difficult to follow".[29]

Conversely, Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four, saying "director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy have fashioned a sexy, sometimes shockingly violent, literate and richly textured tale of the Shakespearean consequences of one man’s irrevocable act of avarice" and called it "a bloody great time."[30] In addition, Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film a rave review, stating that "Mr. McCarthy appears to have never read a screenwriting manual in his life [...] That's a compliment."[31] Danny Leigh of the BBC film review programme Film 2013 praised the film, saying that "the real star is the script. What this film really is a Cormac McCarthy audiobook with visuals by Ridley Scott. It's black as night, engrossing and masterful." He also acclaimed the performances, particularly Diaz's and said that, with regard to the negative reviews, "Movie history is littered with films that we all sneered at and we all laughed at and we all thought were terrible and the critics hated them and no-one went to see them, and then 40 years later they fetch up on programmes like this with everyone saying 'what a masterpiece!'"[32]

Scott Foundas, Chief Film Critic for Variety wrote a defense of the film titled "Why The Counselor Is One of Ridley Scott's Best Films" in which he compared the film to John Boorman's Point Blank, and the screenplay to the work of David Mamet, Harold Pinter, and Quentin Tarantino. Foundas writes, "[the film] is bold and thrilling in ways that mainstream American movies rarely are, and its rejection suggests what little appetite there is for real daring at the multiplex nowadays."[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE COUNSELOR (18)". 20th Century Fox. British Board of Film Classification. October 15, 2013. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (24 October 2013). "Knoxville's 'Bad Grandpa' to end box-office reign of 'Gravity'". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Counselor (2013)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ Savvides, Nick (February 28, 2012). "Brad Pitt, Jeremy Renner & Javier Bardem Circling Ridley Scott's The Counselor". WhatCulture.com. Obsessed with Film LTD. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Cormac McCarthy Sells First Spec Script". TheWrap.com. The Wrap News Inc. January 18, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ Fleming, Mike (January 31, 2012). "Ridley Scott In Talks For Cormac McCarthy's 'The Counselor'". Deadline.com. PMC. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ Shirey, Paul (February 9, 2012). "Ridley Scott confirmed to direct Cormac McCarthy penned 'The Counselor'". JoBlo.com. Joblo Media Inc. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ "First Looks at Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt Filming 'The Counselor'". INeedMyFix.com. Glam Entertainment. August 1, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Ridley Scott halts production on 'The Counselor' following brother's death". HitFix.com. August 20, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  10. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (September 2, 2012). "Ridley Scott Resumes ‘The Counselor’ Monday". Deadline.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ Calia, Michael (June 25, 2013). "Ridley Scott, Cormac McCarthy Team Up for ‘The Counselor’ Trailer". Speakeasy. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ Martens, Cynthia (October 2, 2013). "Giorgio Armani Signs On for 'The Counselor'". Women's Wear Daily. Fairchild Fashion Media. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ Suhrawardi, Rebecca (October 22, 2013). "The dramatic fashion of ‘The Counselor’". New York Post. News Corp. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ Caroline, Ryder (October 17, 2013). "Cheetah Prints and Bullet Holes: Cameron Diaz' Dark Style in 'The Counselor'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Scharf, Lindzi (October 25, 2013). "Dressing Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and more stars of 'The Counselor'". Entertainment Weekly. CNN. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 26, 2013). "CineEurope: Javier Bardem's Hairdo in 'The Counselor' Inspired by Brian Grazer's". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Daniel Pemberton Scoring Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’". Film Music Reporter. April 26, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Daniel Pemberton's 'The Counselor' Score to be Released". Soundtrack.net. Costa Communications. October 7, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Interview: Daniel Pemberton". M. Bauer Publishing. September 23, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  20. ^ "‘The Counselor’ Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. October 10, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  21. ^ Subers, Ray (October 24, 2013). "Forecast: Audiences to Take a Trip with 'Grandpa' This Weekend". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  22. ^ Pomerantz, Dorothy (October 24, 2013). "Why Hollywood Needs 'Jackass'". Forbes. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  23. ^ 'Jackass: Bad Grandpa' Box Office Aims For Mid-$20 Millions
  24. ^ "The Counselor (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "The Counselor Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  26. ^ Cinemascore
  27. ^ McCarthy, Todd (October 23, 2013). "The Counselor: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  28. ^ Review: 'The Counselor' a bleak waste of A-list talent - latimes.com
  29. ^ Debruge, Peter (October 24, 2013). "Film Review: ‘The Counselor’". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  30. ^ Roeper, Richard (23 October 2013). "‘The Counselor’: Outrageous sex, brutal violence and gorgeous words". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  31. ^ Dargis, Manohla (24 October 2013). "Wildlife Is Tame; Not the Humans". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "Episode 10" (in English). 2013. Series 10/15. 13 November 2013. 29 minutes in. BBC. BBC One.
  33. ^ Foundas, Scott (October 28, 2013). "Why ‘The Counselor’ Is One of Ridley Scott’s Best Films". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]