A Cinematic Dream Team Teases Us With The Counselor

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 7 2013 3:19 PM

A Cinematic Dream Team Teases Us With The Counselor

the_counselor
Michael Fassbender plays a lawyer-gone-bad inThe Counselor.

YouTube

A little more than a year ago, news came that a cinematic dream team had been assembled: Cormac McCarthy, one of the greatest living fiction writers, had authored a screenplay, and Ridley Scott was attached to direct it. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Anthon Chigurh himself—Javier Bardem, who played that McCarthy-created villain—were attached to star. Expectations inched up further.

Now the film, called The Counselor, has its first trailer—and I, for one, am still excited, if also a tad wary.

Advertisement

The plot is obscured but for a few choice details: Fassbender, referred to simply as “Counselor,” ventures to the American wilderness and gets ensnared in a web of decadence and decay. Entangled with him is that stacked supporting cast, all whom seem ethically absent and more than a little crazy. McCarthy has said that the script focuses on a respected lawyer (Fassbender) trying his hand in the drug business and grappling with his due comeuppance.

The obvious comparison is 2007’s No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers’ McCarthy adaptation that featured a similar premise: guy stumbles upon lots of cash; guy goes on the run from vigilantes; movie transfixes audience through a slowly building, coiled tension and the jarring presence of Javier Bardem. Granted, Scott seems to have given The Counselor a frenetic feel, in contrast to the Coens’ atmospheric masterpiece (no surprise there, coming from the director of Alien, Gladiator, and American Gangster). But for now, the film seems to be somewhat retreading old ground with fresh talent.

It’ll be interesting, though, to see how McCarthy’s spare, elegiac prose translates on screen this time around. No Country for Old Men actually began as a screenplay before he hammered it into a novel, so he has a penchant for the format. And the last two film adaptations of his work—No Country and The Road—were widely seen as successful uses of his source material.

Only time will tell with this one, but in the meantime, I’m going to lament the incredibly corny ending to the trailer, which implores viewers to sacrifice their self-respect and use the hashtag #haveyoubeenbad. No, thank you.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.