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Joe Morgenstern’s “Counselor Is a Trial” Is Tight but Confusing

In response to Joe Morgenstern’s 599‑word review of The Counselor on Wall Street Journal 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303615304579155421632130680

By Rochus Pomponius, Adjunct Critic

Joe Morgenstern devotes almost six-hundred words to “All-Star Counselor Is a Trial,” but fails to effectively communicate the specifics of the story. One will walk away wondering if Morgenstern is auditioning for a role in a Cormac McCarthy adaptation.

The opening of Trial may be humorous to the humor-challenged, but ultimately its an example of the fluff that Morgenstern provides in the review. After the snarky opening statement, one may think that the critic might actually address what makes the characters so unlikeable, but the critic refuses to dig that deep.

Trial provides some context by briefly addressing writer Cormac McCarthy, but ultimately resorts to this ironic statement: “the cast is all but suffocated by the sententious dialogue of an airless drama.” What happens next? Juicy character analysis? Don’t expect too much.

Morgenstern proceeds with the obligatory paragraph that addresses the stars. There is no investigation into the motivation of the characters, especially the Counselor (Michael Fassbender),  and the critic decides to glide over the characters because that’s what happens in an average review. There is absolutely zero critique about the characters or the actor’s performances.

Trial concludes with two excellent paragraphs, and the audience will be happy to see Morgenstern back on track. The critic notes what is missing in the film, and writes quite well about the atmosphere and subtext.

Joe Morgenstern writes a decent review with Trial, but the critic could have devoted more time to addressing specific scenes and making the review more personal. Instead, one will likely be unsure of what the film is even about.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation

Rochus Pomponius joins the Existimatum staff after a celebrated career as a court jester and the personal entertainer of Emperor Trajan. His studies in rhetoric inform his assessments.