Why ‘The Counselor’ Is One of Ridley Scott’s Best Films

REARVIEW: Rejected by critics and audiences, this bold, thrilling noir shows just how little appetite there is for real daring at the multiplex nowadays.

The truth may not have a temperature, as Cameron Diaz’s leopard-spotted femme fatale says early on in Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor,” but watching the movie you may nevertheless feel a certain chill in the air, no matter the sun-scorched Southwestern locales. Chalk it up to the sangfroid of the characters and their stone-cold greed. There’s an iciness, too, in how the movie has been received: The opening weekend numbers are in and they’re disappointing, the venerable audience-polling firm CinemaScore has branded it with a grade of “D,” and the critics have, by and large, made with the movie like a cheetah with a jackrabbit. The reviews have been especially unkind to Scott, who has been accused of pretension and pomposity. And to his screenwriter, the celebrated novelist Cormac McCarthy, the message has been clear: Don’t quit your day job.

Well, let us acknowledge that Ridley Scott has been down this road before. Thirty years ago, a little movie called “Blade Runner” met with a similar kind of bewilderment from the public and cognoscenti alike. It too was cold and austere — it was literally about robots — and, like a number of movies Scott has made since then, deeply indebted to the doomed romances and nihilist poetry of film noir. And now Scott has made another movie set in a violent dystopia from which there can be no escape — only in “The Counselor,” the future is now.

SEE ALSO: Ridley Scott’s Films Reviewed (PHOTOS)

“The Counselor” is not “Blade Runner,” but it 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. Let’s begin with the plot, which is intentionally abstracted as it is in that other great, fatalistic color noir, John Boorman’s “Point Blank.” Abstraction is always a risky move in a medium where audiences are accustomed to being spoon-fed every last detail, or at least given all the pieces of a puzzle they can construct in their heads on the ride home. In “The Counselor,” though, the pieces form an incomplete jigsaw — we know who’s double-crossing whom and why, but much of the “how” happens offscreen, not just out of sight but out of mind of Scott and McCarthy’s lawyer protagonist (Michael Fassbender), who fails to realize that he is but a jackrabbit, and there are serious predators lurking on the horizon.

The movie is nominally about a drug deal gone wrong — wrong for some people and right for others. But it is really about a kind of animal savagery that hangs in the air in the very bad land along the Texas-Mexico border. It’s the kind of savagery Tommy Lee Jones’ laconic sheriff gazed on with pained awe in the earlier McCarthy adaptation “No Country for Old Men” (another story set into motion by a botched drug deal). But in “The Counselor,” the violence is at once more baroque and more systematized: Beheadings are business as usual here, and the undeclared cargo of a septic truck driving across the painted desert is as likely to include ingeniously camouflaged narcotics as it is the odd human body or two, stuffed into barrels, endlessly ferried to and fro in some kind of toxic purgatory.

Shot in searing yellows and browns by the Polish cinematographer Darisuz Wolski (“Prometheus”), “The Counselor” comes at you like a sweltering fever dream, and at least one possible interpretation is that it’s all one prolonged hallucination, as the Counselor himself lies in the broken, desperate condition we find him at the end of the film, trying to piece together what happened. (Not for nothing is the first line of dialogue in the movie the breathy whisper of Penelope Cruz asking “Are you awake?” amidst a tangle of bare limbs and bedsheets.) But awake or dreaming, “The Counselor” is a ravishing object — a triumph of mood and style, form as an expression of content, and dialogue that finds a kind of apocalyptic comedy in this charnel-house existence.

To the clear irritation of some, McCarthy doesn’t write dialogue that sounds like ordinary conversation (but then, neither do Mamet, Pinter, Tarantino, et al.). His characters may meet to plot the next move in a deal only to end up discussing the etymology of the word “cautionary,” or the folly by which man tries to control his own destiny. The wordplay is rich, rhythmic, clearly the product of someone in love with language and everything it can both conceal and reveal, but listen closely and you will also hear the espousing of a philosophy of the world, where love is a mirage and only in death may we find something like redemption.

“The Counselor” is one of the best films Ridley Scott has made in a career that is not often enough credited for just how remarkable it has been. Perhaps that seems an odd comment to make about a director whose movies have grossed in excess of $1 billion at the global box office, who has three times been nominated for the directing Oscar, and today, at 75, is one of the increasingly few filmmakers who can command A-list casts and major-studio backing for projects not based on videogames, comicbooks, old TV shows or theme-park rides. Not many directors have still been active in their seventies, let alone doing some of their best work. Not many, either, can claim to have directed at least one great film in each decade of their career.

And yet, though he is their generational contemporary, Scott is not usually mentioned in the same breath as Coppola, Scorsese and the other “New Hollywood” enfants terrible, maybe because he began in England, and so much of what he has done has been viewed (by critics and the industry at large) as commercial endeavors, jobs for hire, movies lacking some perceived personal touch. When, in the summer of 2012, I organized the first complete North American retrospective of Scott’s films for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the endeavor was met with more than a bit of skepticism. Indeed, some wondered why I hadn’t selected Scott’s younger brother, Tony (in recent years, a cause celebre among a certain strain of young critics and bloggers), instead.

I suspect this sort of thing doesn’t much bother Scott, who gives few interviews and can rarely be found on the awards-season campaign trail — less out of some Kubrickian reserve than because as soon as one project has wrapped he is invariably on to the next. (Even as you are reading this, he is preparing “Exodus,” with Christian Bale as Moses.) That may also be the natural disposition of a Geordie boy from the mining town of South Shields, who came of age during the air raids of WWII and somehow managed to make it into the movie business.

Scott was poor as a student but talented as an artist — good enough to be accepted to the Royal College of Art in London, where he made his first short film, “Boy and Bicycle,” set in Teesdale (where the family relocated after the war) and starring Tony as a restless teen who plays hooky from school and spends the day peddling his bike around the industrial seacoast, losing himself in stream-of-consciousness reverie. It was the first indication that, in Scott’s cinema, landscape and architecture would always be as significant as the people who pass through them.

If the throughline has not always been obvious in the 22 features he has made in the five decades since, that is partly because Scott is, on one level, a chameleon who can, like the great studio directors of the 1930s and ‘40s, adapt himself to the task at hand, whether Roman epic or gangster saga, seafaring adventure or fantasy futurescape. But if you want to know what Ridley Scott is really about, look no further than “The Duellists,” made in 1977 and deserving of inclusion on any list of the cinema’s great debuts. It is an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad novella in which two French Hussard lieutenants (Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine) challenge each other to a duel and proceed to spend the next two decades jousting wherever and whenever they meet, until no one can much remember the initial insult — real or perceived — that sparked the contest.

At the root of Conrad’s story is the tragicomic absurdity of men in war and the cyclical nature of history — themes Scott has returned to time and again in movies as disparate as 2005’s “Kingdom of Heaven,” which found in the Crusades of the 12th century an apt metaphor for today’s war-torn Middle East, and the recent “Prometheus,” which looked to the distant future in an effort to understand the very origins of the universe. There is, in that film, an extraordinary moment that hews close to self-portraiture, in which a fastidious cyborg (Fassbender again) gazes quizzically at one of Scott’s own favorite films, “Lawrence of Arabia,” trying to collapse the distance between himself and the screen. Much as we might imagine a certain young boy from coastal England doing once upon a time.

So it is not surprising that Scott has been drawn back into the desert and its promise of conquest and new beginnings, for the Crusaders as much as for the fugitive BFFs of “Thelma & Louise.” Now add to that list Diaz’s svelte Malkina, sitting pretty atop “The Counselor’s” vicious food chain. “Do you like it because it reminds you of someplace else?” asks her naive, burnt-sienna man-toy (Javier Bardem) in that same early scene, as they gaze out at the arid bluffs. “I like it for itself,” she replies. But make no mistake: We’ve been here before.

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  1. FJE says:

    Bravo, a masterpiece.

  2. Alguy says:

    I just bought the DVD. I watched it and then I put the DVD in the bin.

  3. Vicki C. Bryant, Esq. says:

    As a serious fan of Ridley Scott’s films, THE COUNSELOR is certainly one of the best films I have seen. Initially I had to watch it about a dozen times to piece together who betrayed whom and how. The cast is fantastic. The film haunts me. Another friend of mine had the same reaction and watches it compellingly each time it airs. I also loved Scott’s THE DUELLISTS. So many of the films out now are not worth the dough spent at the multiplex. But THE COUNSELOR rocks!!!! The cast is just superb. Cormac McCarthy is a genius!! The film made me so thankful that my life was far removed from what occurs in the film…unless I had the misfortune to be an innocent bystander! LOVE THIS FILM!!

  4. robe berg says:

    two of the greatest innovative artists alive collaborate

    and we stand on the shoulders of giants

    squinting myopically at their dark work

    never questioning the paucity of our own perspective

    in judging classical standards of creating

    light outside the box.

    so glad some can see

    beyond the limits

    of their own vision.

  5. Pat Provencio says:

    The movie, (The Counselor) was sensual, sexy, smart, emotional, a tear dropper, dangerous and full of reality with greed…..

  6. Pat Provencio says:

    I loved that movie, The counselor !@

  7. zhenevsky says:

    I’m so glad that someone has done this film justice; so far it seems the most underrated movie of the year.

  8. joe says:

    Omg, please dont listen to artsy jackasses who say this movie is good……it stunk…anything can be spun….the truth is that this movie tried to be preachy and artsy but non of it tied together well and the most important aspect was overlooked…..you have to care about the characters….big budget flic that goes nowhere

  9. Aeken says:

    Anytime you go see a movie and after credits start rolling you ask, “What the hell?”, usually not a good sign that it was a great movie–even worth watching at home–no matter the genre.

    • robe berg says:

      same reaction to blade runner plus many other great classics.
      casablanca was a big flub.
      what the hell
      is your brain
      seeking more information.
      always a good thing, yes?
      compels thinking deeper
      which hopefully results
      in personal growth
      a putative positive purpose in of life.
      seek constant divine discontent.
      just my opinion.

  10. robe berg says:

    i am of the masses.
    is this a halloween movie?

  11. Great artists like Ridley Scott are always going to be out of step with the rabble.

  12. MENTD says:

    I thought it was awesome. I am positive this film will gain love over time and am baffled by
    American critic’s reactions. No one with a brain seems to dislike the movie and I’ve watched
    the imdb score rise as reactions from ACTUAL VIEWERS pour in and are very positive.

  13. maureengreen says:

    I had no intention of seeing this movie, but your review is so incredibly written, I will now. If there were a Pulitzer for movie reviews, this review should win. Bravo.

  14. robe berg says:

    dear carl
    it warms my heart that you express the one true harbinger of greatness
    in the test of a film’s future:
    you can’t get it out of your mind for days.
    this represents the life changing powers like the magic of malvina.
    does she haunt
    similar to your best home brewed wine served in bed
    gone bad?
    stir the embers of unconscious memories.
    or malkina?
    to kill without emotion in unconditional love?
    think of cheetahs of killing us softly for their cubs.

    once again, I am just an old jack rabbit expressing worn opinions

    but nothing new was ever created by the masses

    except burning at the steak.

    take comfort in your solitary view.

    scores of pumpers cross america daily

  15. Carl R White says:

    You ultimately know how good a film is by how it makes people feel. Just by reading these comments it would appear, for the most part, people either love it or hate it. This bodes well for how history will judge this film as love usually holds up over time, hate speaks to lesser emotions that lose their power over time.
    My opinion, the film was brilliant. I can not get it out of my head two days after seeing it. It speaks to the sad essence of humanity. I have not studied the film or the script, I am only running on the emotion of one viewing at this time, but I think this film will be studied and talked about long after we are all gone from the breathing on this planet.
    I truly believe Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy have crafted a masterpiece that will one day add to the discussion about what humanity really is or was. Cheers.

  16. Marie J Clarke says:

    I love the movie The Counselor. a breath of fresh air. Because lately there are remakes, no story, crappy authors/actresses playing in movie. The Counselor gives a great story, directing, actors/actresses. Today most movie goes don’t want to think.

    • robe berg says:

      dear marie
      i salute your love for the new.
      when was the last time you saw a cheetah playing a piano?
      and what is the destiny of a diamond?
      so many are programmed in their thinking, and thus their reflexive, but unreflective responses,
      they cannot see the deeper dimensions at work in such art pieces,
      much less their own lives.
      there is little real separation.
      its not about having sex with a car.
      its about how cars are objects of sex.
      think of little boys, and nascar.
      and what is the metaphorical implication
      of millions hidden in sewage?
      the headless horseman of the green hornet?
      blade runner was met with the same mass revulsion.
      what determines a classic?
      thank god ridley scott has cojones.
      and rest assured, the stellar cast
      opting for these opaque roles
      are not blind moles.
      is not life a bolita?
      one last note.
      find someone you can talk to
      who has killed someone
      an iraqi or afghanistan vet.
      then you will see the glory
      of having a savage sense of guilt
      over the taking of a human life
      versus malvina.
      and to think all of this is taking place right now
      out there
      as we speak
      casts a moral sheen on the film
      we cannot lightly dismiss
      as gratuitous unnecessary violence.
      just read the headlines.

      drive on in original thinking, m’lady

  17. robe berg says:

    like i said, you laundry list cliches, without an in depth examination of the outliers.

    get outside your blinders.

    address that which your conscious mind cannot see.

    for all of life is taking place in the unconscious

    at the true symbolic level

    beyond the known signals

    of your dream world

    and finite mind.

    let your grasp exceed your reach

    in accessing this visualization

    of the mystery of the art of life.

  18. tlsnyder42 says:

    WRONG! Stupid movie, bad plotting, incomprehensible story, gratuitous scenes AND characters, pretentious messaging, no single premise running through the story, vague backstories to the characters, pseudo-intellectual philosophy for pretentious pseudo-intellects, unnecessarily violent, sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism, nothing heroic or redemptive. For once, moviegoers and critics showed impeccable taste.

  19. robe berg says:

    i have seem the movie three times, and remain mesmerized, which meets my test of extreme depth and thematic staying power, and i have read all the major critical reviews and they sound essentially cliched, and superficial. yours is the very first to nail it, spot on, and i admire your lucidity.

  20. Ryan says:

    Cameron Diaz has sex with a car. Then Javier Bardem makes a suckerfish noise to describe what it was like under the windshield. The movie has like a thousand “I’ll tell you about women” lines, including my favorite “You can DO ANYTHING you want to a woman but bore her.” The writing painfully moves from obvious foreshadowing (the long description of the bolo murder device) to strange sexytime talk (not just the car scene but Cruz/Fassbender’s weird phone sex) to overwrought monologues that sounded like they were written by a thesaurus. No interesting characters. No clever observations. If you think this is one of Ridley Scott’s best movies you are either blind, lying, or wish you were Armond White.

    • Jack R. Isse says:

      Armond White > you and most living critics

      Even if the movie isn’t great it’s still not far-fetched to call it one of Ridley Scott’s best since the vast majority of Ridley Scott’s movies made since Blade Runner have sucked. Maybe this one just sucks less than crap like Robin Hood (easily one of the worst movies made in the past decade, no way is The Counselor worse than that pile).

  21. Bravo!!! A great summation and appreciation of a film that will in the future be appreciated as a masterpiece. We’re lucky this kind of writing exists in the present. Hopefully, it can make a difference in how this film is being seen.

  22. Your statement about BR “— it was literally about robots” … I get what you’re saying here, but . . . .
    Replicants were not robots.

  23. Arrsteroy Neemoy says:

    The movie is not “rejected” by anyone. There is nothing to be rejected here. Just one more production for profit.

  24. Kenn Stewart says:

    Thank god a journalist who understands the greatness of Ridley Scott. For me he is the greatest director of all time I just love watching his films as he has the magic eye, something only a very few have ever had. His films have never had thepraise they truly deserve. So many films lack his true beauty and the acting in his films is usually ignored.
    Cant wait to see the Counselor and Exodus and the forthcoming Prometheus 2 &3. I wish he had made Blood Meridian, gore and all as McCarthy is such a demanding writer and with respect has never been acurately depicted on screen despite NCFOM success its not McCarthy.

    • acorvey says:

      The film version of “No Country For Old Men” is almost identical to the book. Same goes for “The Road.” McCarthy started writing his own screenplays because the Hollywood guys were just copying him word for word. Cut out the middle man, you know?

  25. genxaccord says:

    Too many things were not clearly defined, especially the Counselor and Reiner’s part in the drug deal.
    And this…
    “Hello Counselor./ Good day Counselor./ How is it going Counslor?/ Get me out of here Counselor./ Do you know how dangerous this is Counselor?/ They’ll take your counsel and shove it down your counseling throat Counslor./ She did things to my car Counselor, nasty dirty things so filthy I could not look away and my eyes were scalded like a hot brazillian wax across the windshield of my vision until I begged for mercy or death and she gave me neither but instead branded herself deeply into my brain and I don’t know if it is pleasure or pain but I think I’m in love.

  26. Beth Hanna says:

    Loved the film, too. One small correction: The name of Cameron Diaz’s character is Malkina, not Malinka.

  27. This special film speaks eloquently and beautifully to a specific demographic, which is to hint; not so much to one broader…
    Recently heard a major financier of film state he would much rather make a bad film which made a ton of money vs a great film that made significantly less. While it is not surprising he would feel that way, it is disturbing that it is an economic fact.

    We love this film (won’t bore you with all the trite “why’s”), and particularly; we love the fact that we do.

  28. Steve says:

    To compare Blade Runner, a film that molded an entire genre, with The Counselor is just plain stupid. End of conversation.

  29. shannala says:

    Thank you for writing about this film – I took a group of actor friends to see it and we’ve been talking about it for days.

    It is definitely unique and affected us, although as you pointed out it will probably not appeal to the general public or most critics.

    However, I believe there is something special here that will outlive the naysayers who are afraid to look deep enough to see something interesting and painful ..in its exposure of the stark truth of the human condition.

  30. Julienne says:

    Really Scott? How much did Ridley pay you to make that quote in public? The movie’s lazy, slow, boring for most of the time you’re sitting there waiting for something poignant to happen. The Stars are all sleepwalking through this film. Boring.

  31. Smith says:

    I went through the trailer of the movie ‘The Counselor’ at : http://trailer.ly/movie/the-counselor/. I hope the movie will make up the expectation of everyone.

  32. TheRajah says:

    Right, Scott — It’s the audience’s fault.

  33. The Kingslayer says:

    Aliens, Blade Runner or Gladiator are one of Ridley’s best. The Counselor looks like another disappointing outing much like Prometheus was.

  34. Dan Delago says:

    The major problem with ‘The Counselor’ is the screenplay. Anyone who has written a feature length film can identity with the same novice pitfalls that Cormac McCarthy makes in his first script. Too wordy dialogue can kill a film. Many of the characters talk in riddles and long soliloquies like Brad Pitt’s character. Cameron Diaz’ character Malkina has scenes that do nothing to further the plot like pleasuring herself on a Ferrari or the Catholic church confessional. This movie proves that accomplished book authors don’t make the best screenwriters. It just goes to show you that a bad script can cripple a first-rate cast.

    • Chase C says:

      So just because a screenwriter does something other than follow the formula, he’s a novice? Or is isn’t it a bit more likely that he knows exactly what he’s doing? That it’s his style? After all, he only has a MacArthur Grant, National Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. But no, I’m sure he walked into screenwriting blind and ignorant of convention . . . See PT Anderson and Tarantino if you want riddles and soliloquies–and yet we tolerate their films. Not all movies have to be the same. If it’s not your taste, that’s one thing. But an ad hominem attack on McCarthy doesn’t carry much weight. Everything he touches may not be gold, but it will always be Cormac and that’s a hell of a lot better than what most can say.

      • Blakey says:

        I’m sorry, I’m soon to begin a PHD in philosophy (which will have a focus on logical fallacies in some way, although I haven’t quite decided yet) but anyway it really annoys me when people use the word ad hominem incorrectly. An ad hominem is when you ‘attack’ a person because you struggle to ‘attack’ their argument. In this case he never ‘attacked’ Cormac McCarthy directly, instead what he did was said that his screenplay was bad and then offered up a reason why it might be the case (because it is his first one and he may have fallen into some pitfalls that everyone falls into when making their first screenplay). If you’re going to point out logical fallacies, please make sure you actually point them out when they are actually there!

  35. davidllewelynjones says:

    The initial review Variety gave it was terrible; the New York Times seemed to love it. So basically I’m intrigued.

  36. j farmington says:

    What is wrong with the film is that it is neither tragedy nor drama, but a brief tableau of cartel violence. The “plot”, if you could call it that, is not set in motion by the fact that the titular Counselor has run in the circle of drug dealers for years, nor because he finally decided to become part of that world by buying a shipment himself. No, the violence is set in motion because a random kid he happened to bail out of jail is murdered by his friend’s money-hungry girlfriend, and because he bailed him out of jail, the Counselor is marked for death. Then for the rest of the movie he runs and cries. It is a two beat movie that fails to entertain while it preaches. I would love to read an essay about Cormac McCarthy’s ruminations on violence. I don’t want to watch it on the screen surrounded by inert drama and passive characters.

  37. sv says:

    So what you are saying, in a nutshell, is that we the audience did not listen to the movie well enough, hence we missed the big picture, i.e. plot, arc, character development and maybe story. And if we had listened better, while keeping the back of our mind that this is the All Mighty Ridley Scott directing, then it would have been a ‘Film Noir’ movie experience that the trailer eluded we would have. All righty then… my bad.

  38. G. Jardoness says:

    Please be sure to get Mr. Foundas something nice for his going-away party — perhaps a straight-jack?

  39. Caroline says:

    Is there a point at which a film’s misogyny matters in how it’s regarded by critics? A quick recap: We have three women with speaking parts, all sexualized. (Even a worried mother offers a blow job). Of the other women, one is soft, sexy and pliant, a dream girl in bed, who will run off with her man when he gets into trouble. Does she have a job that she can leave like that? Oh good lord who knows, the movie “isn’t about that.” She ends up fridged so her man can experience a good cry. Gag me with a f*%#ing spoon. It’s not just lazy storytelling, it’s also just completely stupid. Anyway, she served her purpose. The other substantial (so to speak) female is like every guy’s worst nightmare, a controlling bitch, nails like bullets, who runs the show, gets herself off and gets her man killed. The unbelievable bitch, huh guys? She also screws a car, and then has her vagina (and really, all vaginas, amIright guys?) described as “some sort of bottom feeder.”

    So my question to you, and to all critics who are just gliding right by with nary a mention of what a steaming pile of woman-hate this film is: do you care? If the film was blatantly racist or homophobic, would that warrant a mention? And Mr. Foundas, trust me, yours is the umpteenth review of this film that just… somehow… doesn’t mention any of this. It’s not you, it’s all of you.

    And I actually liked the film more than others, as far as I can tell, except for its hatefulness toward women. But guys, here’s the thing: you can’t just ignore this big a problem in a film. Not for much longer anyway.

    • Isse says:

      Only Malkina can accurately be described as “sexualized” which is different than “character who happens to have and like sex” (Penelope Cruz) or a desperate mother trying to get her son freed from prison (Rosie Perez). I’m sure Cruz wouldn’t need a job considering The Counselor’s like a mega-wealthy lawyer who can afford huge diamonds from Amsterdam. Cruz’s character may be “fridged” but it fits with the setting and the times at least. As books like Roberto Bolano’s 2666 coldly document, the US/Mexico border is home to violent murders of thousands of young women a year, it’s a terrible reality very specific to this area that still happens to this day with little being done by those in power to fix it. The movie paints an ugly picture of the drug cartel scene at the border as a whole and this is just one of its many aspects.

      Malkina, I think makes a great femme fatale and there’s much more to her character than you give credit for. The talk of her vaginal escapades on the car, as memorable a scene that is, is just one scene, not the whole character.

      Sure there may not be a LOT to these characters, but then again there isn’t a whole lot to the other characters either outside of their dialogue. Writing female characters has never been one of Cormac McCarthy’s strong suits which he has admitted so himself (it’s something he’s trying to rectify with his next novel). He could have probably done better, like give Laura more presence, but really they’re not different from any character he writes in his other stories outside of being different sexes. Kept at a distance, predisposed to savagery and cruelty, or mere fodder for life’s cruelties themselves. Blood Meridian in particular does not have much to say about its almost entirely male characters outside of their violence and does not give them the best of fates either. Characters have never been the point of his books really, but it says something the villains are usually the most memorable ones (Chigurh, Judge Holden, and now Malkina to some extent). I’ll agree this isn’t the best movie to represent female character development or something but saying that it “hates women” ? If this is a hatred toward women then it’s not much more sympathetic toward anyone else either.

      • Person says:

        “straw men”? Think you missed the point Caroline. If author and director treat all characters as shallow and disposable, then it’s a bit of a stretch to call a film misogynistic. Misanthropic would be more accurate. Posters are right- McCarthy doesn’t specifically cast judgment on women- he calls out the entire human race as savage and brutal. Do you hear men crying about the horrible portrayal of men in “the road”- where most men are child rapists and cannibals? No, because we understand the comment is on basic Human nature, not Men.

    • WitnessWitness says:

      so this intentionally sexy movie would be better by adding wholesome women with no desire for sex? wait, let’s not stop there. let’s make movies play out exactly like people down the street because that’s in no way offensive and super interesting.

      hey, go make a movie about how guys are jerks. number of guys who will care: 0

      • Caroline says:

        Straw men. I won’t take the bait, but thanks for trying. Btw, if you think it’s sexy that a woman’s function in a film is to be an object of desire and then be killed so her barely-there-as-a-character boyfriend can be deepened by the pain her death has caused him, ummmmm, eww. That’s icky dude.

  40. I’m one of the few movie critics with the Phoenix Film Critics Society who liked it a lot! Its ‘Film Noir’ style, ensemble performances, and intricate plot lines with caricature profiles makes for a very engaging story. Stan Robinson; Film Columnist, AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine; Phoenix, AZ

  41. Mjkbk says:

    Seems to me the actual problem may be that, essentially, Scott made a $25 million art-house film which was put into wide release.

  42. sup says:

    Totally contrived, smarmy and schmucky, self-indulgent and awkward, verbose, despesrate, look-what-I-can write dialogue…COUNSELOR is exactly the kind of movie an aggressive new film student with zero sensibility would make if ssid FS had the budget. And Cameron Diaz is unbelievably laughable and homely in this movie.

  43. kenmandu says:

    Tremendous over-reaching by the critic–equating extreme cynicism for artistic merit.

  44. Alan Ormsby says:

    I knew, from the headline alone, that this was written by Scott Foundas.

  45. Ed says:

    I loved this movie. Critics trashing “The Couselor” yet praising “Bad Grandpa”, say’s enough about who themselves and their audience.

  46. Thank God, somebody presented a statement that reminds people that film is an ar….AN ART!!

  47. Shawn says:


    Rationalize it all you want, Diaz (working her plosives, as her coach taught her) could not carry the prose. Plus, the title character plays a shallow victim from the start. Worthless. Pretentious. Fake.

    • Donovan says:

      The Counselor is the most discussed film right now. That’s what the movie is all about> It tickles the analytical mind and invites debates between the “for” and the “against”.

      • Shawn says:

        And, I get that part of it.

        I, terribly, wanted to love the flick while in the midst of the viewing; however, I was rolling my eyes leading into the end. Afterwards, as the dissection continued, I started loathing it more and more.

  48. I loooooved this movie. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in years. This and 12 Angry Men are probably by favorite two movies of all time now. I just wish it would’ve been longer.

  49. Delgad says:

    The counselor Is a film that does not play by film rules that the general audience is accustomed too. If you go see a film that is named the counselor you obviously know that it is trying something, something besides giving you your happy ending, it’s trying what film is to pose to do, not necessarily push the boundary’s to far to the extremes, but try something new. Maybe something that’s bit lost in film, not completely, but just having conversations between on character and another and being captivated by it, without any special effects in their to keep your attention. Just the acting performances alone are great, too bad most critics now in days only care about box office.

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