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Richard Brody’s “The Counselor” Is Hardly Worth the Brief Effort

In response to Richard Brody’s 142‑word review of The Counselor on New Yorker

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Richard Brody’s “The Counselor” is an ultimately unsatisfying review that seems hardly worth taking the (admittedly) short amount of time it takes to go through it.  Yes, the work is short—a mere 142 words. But while less is often more, such is not the case here.

Admittedly, some of the prose is borderline amusing.  One might smile to see the film described as one that “joins a modicum of knowledge about drug lords’ ruthless violence to a repressed glee in depicting it.” But it’s one thing to make such a statement, it’s another thing to back it up, and the review doesn’t seem interested in doing that.

Brody’s The Counselor tries hard to be clever, but ends up as overly caustic and even mean. Perhaps the assumption is that “clever” prose overshadows true analysis, and taking the time to honestly talk about a film, even one with faults, is hardly worth the time. Better to spout funny lines and hope the audience is too busy sneering at the snarky humor to notice the lack of any real meat. But if that’s the case, the attempt fails miserably here.

Being concise is usually better than being verbose. But being concise without substance is far worse. It might take more time to read this than it took to create it. In either case, it’s time wasted.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation