Dampd intimidating presence

As literal as an instruction manual, these passages give shape to the physical world of his novels.

Then there is the grandiloquent style, a fire and brimstone sort of poetry, like this observation from : For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent desires.

Mystic and syntactically tortuous, this is Mc Carthy the mythmaker, setting down the laws of his universe.

Both styles — the palpable as well as the mythic — may well inspire a filmmaker; they evidently have.

Yet as Mc Carthy tales go, this one feels inconsequential, even as its portentous monologues strive to lend it a stark authority.

Early in the film, for instance, a sage diamond dealer, while examining a 3.9 carat Asscher-cut, remarks to the counselor, “Once the first cut is made, there is no going back.

(“Truth has no temperature,” Cameron Diaz, as the film’s femme fatale, proclaims in an early scene.) Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt are affable standouts among a colorful cast of reprobates, both of them (mostly) at ease in their characters’ shifts between shit-talking and gravitas. As in many Mc Carthy stories, , most of them offered to the counselor, a man of law, as it were (played by a mild Michael Fassbender) who chooses to involve himself in a lucrative drug deal made possible by the Mexican cartel wars.

The deal goes wrong, of course, and the weight of the counselor’s choice is underscored by the violence and bloodshed we expect from a Mc Carthy tale.

Laura is never more than a sainted idol, and the love affair itself consists largely of avowals and diamonds, none of which provides the ballast we need to feel the impact of the counselor’s bad choices.And in what is perhaps the film’s most memorable (and telling) set piece, the slack-jawed Bardem recounts the night that his femme fatale fucked his car.Mc Carthy surely wanted her to be an intimidating presence, but Diaz’s Malkina is a cartoonish character, closer to Cruella de Vil than to the complex figure she might have been. We can’t quite believe in its laws because we don’t quite believe in its world.Yet bereft of an actual narrator, Mc Carthy has chosen to place his grandiloquent style in the mouths of his characters.In some ways, it’s tantalizing, this glossy cross-border thriller populated with club owners and diamond dealers and drug cartel who quote Keats and Marlowe (and even Cormac Mc Carthy) and speak in gnomic aphorisms.