No thank you, Counselor

Lindsay Lillig

Ridley Scott’s newest film “The Counselor” hit theaters Oct. 25. The all-star cast promised great things in the trailers, which were broken shortly after the opening credits.

Counselor (Michael Fassbender) marries his beautiful girlfriend Laura (Penelope Cruz) and embarks on a new business venture. Counselor is associated with two men in the endeavor, Reiner (Javier Bardem) and Westray (Brad Pitt). Reiner and Westray repeatedly remind Counselor that the business can lead to immoral paths with no turnaround, but Counselor jumps on board. Reiner’s wife Malkina (Cameron Diaz) manipulates them all [KB1] to their ultimate demises.

From the moment the movie starts, the audience feels left behind. Viewers are dropped into the characters’ situations, but are supplied with no exposition whatsoever. Nor does the audience ever gain any sort of background information about anything relevant to the plot. Viewers become well informed about each character’s sex life, but imperceptive of the intended storyline.

There is no conflict between the characters. Each character deals with some sort of external conflict, but no problems directly relate to one another. The four main characters never argue. They don’t have anything to gain from one other. Nothing is ever addressed.

The ambiguity cannot even be written off as a case of bad acting. The acting was the most decent aspect of the film. Fassbender, Pitt, Bardem, Cruz and Diaz all did fine work.

The acting struggles to gain full appreciation because viewers do not have a clear idea of what to react to.

There is a scene in which Counselor and Westray are having a discussion and by the end of the conversation Counselor is crying. Fassbender appeared to be giving a stunning performance, but its context remains a mystery.

The script left a lot to be desired—exposition, arcs of the characters and identifiable plot points—but Scott could have made clearer decisions in his directing process. If he wanted to green-light such a vague production, he should have found more precise ways to help his actors tell the story.

Cruz is on screen for a grand total of 15 minutes. Bardem has weird hair. Diaz was subpar of antagonist standards. Fassbender delivered a valiant effort. Brad Pitt was the easiest to comprehend.

Viewers may actually need a counselor to talk them through the quandary they may experience when leaving the theater.