Ridley Scott is a veteran filmmaker; as the director of "Hannibal" and "Gladiator", he knows brutality. So when even he admits that a script invoked a sense of dread in him, you know the finished product is going to be tense.
Scott talked about that tension in his new film, "The Counselor", which stars Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who gets involved in a drug deal, and says the movie works slow, silent fingers of stress into your brain before you even know what's happening.
"There’s a deep sense of stress that starts about halfway through, and you can’t put your finger on why. When you’re reading the script, it’s like there’s a series of cogs in a very clever clock. The cogs start to engage and — a good word is dread. And the dread sets in, and it stays there," he said.
Of course, the script was done by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote "The Road" and "No Country For Old Men"; going into it, you know you're in for a hell of a ride. Scott says that McCarthy is so talented that he makes what he does look easy, when that is far from the case.
"It’s relentless. I think he writes the truth. Because life is like that most of the time in some shape or form, whether it’s illness or the end of the world. Cormac’s a writer’s writer. You read his writing and think, I can do that, and then you sit down and try. And you try, dude," Scott says.
The film is already getting good reviews; Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praises McCarthy on a brilliant screenplay and Scott on his beautiful execution, saying:
"From all the ellipses, as well as the eccentric, mesmerizing poetry of his dialogue, Mr. McCarthy appears to have never read a screenwriting manual in his life. (That’s a compliment; this is his first produced film script.) Although there’s a fairly blunt, near-archetypal aspect to the main characters — their expensive homes, sports cars and designer clothes speak the language of money fluently — the plot remains deliberately unobvious for a long time...Mr. Scott manages all these swiftly spinning parts with impeccable control and a lucid visual style. The story may be initially elusive, but there’s a clarity, solidity and stillness (the camera moves but doesn’t tremble) to his images that augment the narrative’s gravity and inexorable momentum. The beauty of the landscapes is about all that feels coherent in an often unrecognizable, unsettling world."
"The Counselor" also stars Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, and Penelope Cruz.
Image: Wikimedia Commons