Cormac McCarthy keeps moviegoers guessing in 'The Counselor'

Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:33pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Michael Fassbender faced the challenge of interpreting the lead role in Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay, he wasn't about to quiz the renowned American novelist about the gaps in the script for the crime drama "The Counselor."

The Irish-German actor figured the 80-year-old McCarthy "wasn't that type of guy." And besides, Fassbender had accepted of the enigmatic counselor from British director Ridley Scott precisely after being drawn in by a script he called "mysterious, original."

It had "this information that was withheld, drawing me in, and I have to fill in these blanks," Fassbender told Reuters. "Maybe some people find it frustrating, but I find if really interesting and provocative."

"The Counselor," which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, is packed with lengthy monologues and lessons about the brutality of the drug trade along the U.S.-Mexican border. It brings to mind some of the films adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for his bleak view of a violent U.S. Southwest like the Oscar winning "No Country for Old Men."

And yet, with McCarthy's signature sparse style, the information gaps around a Texas lawyer and a drug deal gone awry are about as big as the wide-open spaces of the Southwestern landscape featured in the film.

The film features an all-star cast that includes Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Bardem's wife in real life Penelope Cruz, who plays Fassbender's sweet fiance. The movie opens with a sex scene between Fassbender and Cruz under the glaring brightness of a white sheet, portraying the innocence of a young couple in love.

The counselor runs with a crowd of very wealthy people, so wealthy that Diaz's Malkina rides her horse on the vast expanses of a ranch along with her two cheetahs. They are damaged characters who have likely created wealth out of illicit means.


(L-R) Actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, Director Ridley Scott and actor Michael Fassbender pose for photographers at a photocall for the film "The Counselor" in London October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris