Nobody Makes Cormac McCarthy Revise

Okay, so, wow: I don’t think any of us expected a Cormac McCarthy-penned, Ridley Scott-directed, Bardem-and-Fassbender-and-Pitt-and-Cruz-and-Diaz-starring film like The Counselor to be quite so stupid. I mean sure, Scott may not have directed an interesting movie since Hannibal, but what was going on with that script, Cormac? It was almost like he took one pass at the thing and washed his hands of the entire project. Did that grizzled old bastard novelist totally punk Hollywood on this one?

With a narrative so undercooked but also this pompous and prosey (which, to be fair, is how everything tends to sound in McCarthy books like Blood Meridian and Outer Dark, but those are stylized Gothic period pieces set centuries ago, not contemporary narco-violence thrillers), you might assume that the screenwriter here in fact put too much into the story, word-wise; didn’t let the characters breathe. And it’s true that the actors are often struggling to make these baroque lines sound at all plausible—to say nothing about the scene where Cameron Diaz has sex with a car. But I have a different theory.

You see, McCarthy wasn’t always an entity in the land of movies. Suddenly, however, the Coen brothers blew us away with an adaptation of No Country For Old Men, and people were sufficiently horrified by a film version of The Road—a post-apocalyptic novel, mind you, that McCarthy was inspired to write because of his own new very young son. Seeing that he had a chance to score another jackpot for his family before he died, he signed on to write The Counselor, then handed over a slim treatment sprinkled with a bunch of crummy dialogue he’d cut out of his superior fiction over the years.

“Brilliant!” said everyone at the studio. “We can’t wait to see the next draft.” To which McCarthy no doubt replied: “What next draft?” while flying away in a private jet made of money, back toward his desert ranch or wherever it is he holes up and ignores everyone not worth his time. Well, Cormac, I have to admit, I fell for your name, hook, line, and sinker; I paid a theater to see a movie that would’ve been better screened on an 18-hour flight cramped in coach or in a morphine haze on a hospital bed. I’m not even mad, really—I just aspire to one day give as few fucks as you do. Bravo.

 

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