LexG/Ray Quick wrote something good about Javier Bardem‘s performance in response to yesterday’s “Foundas Joins Counselor Club” riff. “Minus Penelope Cruz‘s character, Bardem’s is probably the least venal in the movie: Honest, terrified, in thrall to Cameron Diaz against his better judgment, open with Fassbender. He’s the soul of the movie and his brutal, amimalistic downfall is one of the few poignant moments in it. Whereas Pitt’s comeuppance is played [with] all manner of notes, Bardem was pretty much a soulful straight-shooter through and through, and he goes out as undignified as anyone, into the ground, it’s over, fuck you, there go the cheetahs, steal his shit while we’re at it. It’s a merciless end for a character, [and yet] these critics [are] acting like it was Chigur Redux or Skyfall Ahoy. What movie did they even see?”
I meant to say earlier that the vibe that Bardem brings to his Reiner role — existentially weary but not frosty, cynical but open-souled, reasonably humane for a guy who deals drugs, guarded but not malicious — is as much Bardem as the part itself. I read portions of the script online before I saw The Counselor the first time, and then I read the full published screenplay before seeing it the second time, and I can tell you that the lines are Cormac McCarthy‘s but the mood and vibe are Bardem’s alone. He animates each line and injects a kind of fatalistic vulnerability. Like LexG says, he’s the most sympathetic besides Cruz, and in a way is more sympathetic than Cruz he “knows”, at least, and she’s just a nice, sweet girly-girl who believes in Catholicism and doesn’t even want to know what her diamond ring cost. She seems almost afraid to know. Which means that she suspects but doesn’t want to “know” — brilliant. The same mentality as a good mafia wife.