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Ian Buckwalter’s “The Case” Is Distant but Close to McCarthy

In response to Ian Buckwalter’s 719‑word review of The Counselor on NPR

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Ian Buckwalter’s meditation on Cormac McCarthy aka “The Counselor Can’t Make The Case For Itself,” is successful by conveying the essence of Cormac McCarthy’s work, but fails to look deeper into the film by way of a comprehensive analysis.

The Case opens with a beautiful and poetic introductory paragraph in which Buckwalter ties McCarthy’s characters to a classic piece of literature. One will find the critic’s words insightful, and prepare for a potentially transcendental experience.

The first half of Buckwalter’s The Case is outstanding. The critic slowly builds up to a piercing question with a gentle dose of plot summary and McCarthy. Audiences will feel mentally ready for an explosion of insight on the film.

The second half of The Case is more of a meditation on the writer Cormac McCarthy as opposed to a thorough analysis. In the final four paragraphs the characters are only mentioned twice by name, and the actual “Counselor”, Michael Fassbender, is completely ignored.

To the credit of Buckwalter, the final paragraphs of The Case are definitely entertaining and thought-provoking, but just not so much about the film. There is more emphasis on McCarthy than descriptive details about the plot or characters. One doesn’t necessarily need to spend time detailing out the background of characters, but it is important for the reader to have a general sense of the main cast.

The Case is smart and well written, but comes across as one who is thinking about his own experience with the work of Cormac McCarthy, and not what makes for a comprehensive review.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation