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The Counselor

THE COUNSELOR

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. RITZY VILLA - TEXAS

MICHAEL FASSBENDER is going down on PENÉLOPE CRUZ underneath A BED SHEET, making THE AUDIENCE uncomfortably SHIFT IN THEIR SEATS and wonder whether they're IN THE RIGHT THEATRE.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

I suppose a movie that opens with me going down on Penélope Cruz is going to then go downhill really fast for my character, right?

PENÉLOPE CRUZ

Considering that it's written by Cormac McCarthy, hell yes. So enjoy it while you can.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Cormac McCarthy? Did he ever write a book titled The Counselor? Either I missed that or it's a real stinker everybody'd rather forget about.

PENÉLOPE CRUZ

No no, this isn't based on a book. It's Cormac's very first screenplay.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Oh, I wonder how his literary style of leaving out quotation marks and not differentiating between action and dialogue will translate to screenwriting software.

PENÉLOPE CRUZ

Characters saying the things they actually mean to be doing and vice-versa. That means a lot of incoherent rambling on one end and plenty of protracted scenes without talking on the other. Now come on, this scene should belong in the second category!

EXT. OPEN FIELD - TEXAS

JAVIER BARDEM and CAMERON DIAZ are conducting a PHOTO SHOOT with TWO CHEETAHS.

CAMERON DIAZ

Oh no, those are my pet cheetahs. We're just out on one of our eccentric picnics. This is how we relax in general.

JAVIER BARDEM

Are you enjoying yourself, darling? Your icy stare of utter disdain seems somewhat more pronounced than usual.

CAMERON DIAZ

You are the current object of my scorn, honey. Why do you insist on looking like Sid Vicious making a guest appearance on Jersey Shore? Seriously, can you even be in a Cormac McCarthy story without some ridiculously anachronistic hairdo thrown in?

JAVIER BARDEM

You're one to talk. Why are you wearing a reject from the Lady Gaga collection?

CAMERON DIAZ

I'm underplaying my usual bubbly persona, so I have to compensate elsewhere. It's an interesting notion, isn't it? Compensation. To believe there is a lack somewhere. That we can be made less and then make amends in tangentially related avenues. What are we to make of this if we are not unmade in the making thereof?

JAVIER BARDEM

Whoa whoa, what the fuck was that? Please tell me that was a one-off. The dialogue in this movie isn't going to sound entirely like it was written by a bunch of philosophy minors, is it?

CAMERON DIAZ

Sorry, but in the world of Cormac McCarthy, everybody's got wordy and pretentious insights to share. Even diamond dealers. Here, watch.

INT. DIAMOND STORE - AMSTERDAM

MICHAEL is buying A DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING from BRUNO GANZ.

BRUNO GANZ

Yes, that's a fine stone right there. Now please allow me to impart the underlying philosophy of the diamond trade in the guise of a convoluted sales pitch. You see, a diamond is classified by its limitations. There is no such thing as a perfect stone, so we spend our lives searching for the tiniest flaws and imperfections.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Man, I can't imagine how tiring it must be to constantly have to look for and point out what's wrong with something.

THE EDITING ROOM AUTHORS

Mmh.

MICHAEL uses the DIAMOND RING to propose to PENÉLOPE and they celebrate with A SHITLOAD OF MORBID FORESHADOWING.

INT. JAVIER'S HOUSE - TEXAS

MICHAEL visits JAVIER at his PARTY which is attended exclusively by SEARS CATALOGUE MODELS.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

I need more money to live the good life with Penélope, even though she's given no indication whatsoever that she's only with me for my wealth. Got any drug deals coming up that I could get in on?

JAVIER BARDEM

As it happens, I do have one coming up. No need to discuss any specifics or anything, let's just say you're now "involved" and keep it at that.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Sounds great! I'm in. Volved.

JAVIER BARDEM

I would like to straightforwardly warn you about the inherent dangers of dealing with the cartel, but that wouldn't be needlessly symbolic, now would it? So let me instead tell you about this thing called the bolito. It's a motor-driven garotte that slips over the neck and can't be removed once it starts to tighten. It will slowly but surely decapitate its helpless victim.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Let me guess. Either that's going to be used on someone later in the movie or it's a metaphor for my gradual downfall as a result of this deal.

JAVIER BARDEM

Why not both? Now I will arrange for you to meet with Brad Pitt to set up the deal. As a welcome change of pace from all the nihilistic musings and purple prose, he'll talk exclusively in parables.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Oh for fuck's sake.

INT. BAR - TEXAS

MICHAEL meets with BRAD PITT, who plays A PHILOSOPHISING COWBOY. That is really ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.

BRAD PITT

Let me tell you about this bouncer who punched me in the face. I immediately had him roughed up to show everyone what happens when you mess with me. Now, what universal and instructive truth can we glean from this? Anyone?

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Just cut to the chase, buddy.

BRAD PITT

I wish I could, but I'd just be repeating everything Javier already said, right down to the indirect discouragement. I don't seem to be doing anything that can't be rolled into his character.

(beat)

Fuck it, let's discourage you some more. Ever watch a snuff film?

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Come on, in what year is this movie supposed to take place? I don't think anyone has given a shit about snuff films since 8MM. I doubt anyone made a big deal back then too.

BRAD PITT

I mention it in the same spirit as the bolito, so you could interpret the snuff film as another metaphor. You see, those who watch them are accomplices to the act. You may think you can keep your distance from this drug deal and limit your involvement, but the blood will be on your hands just as much. Is none of this turning you off yet?

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Astonishingly, no!

BRAD PITT

Fair enough. Let's get the deal started with a lot of protracted scenes without talking. This all covers about twelve pages in the screenplay, but that still counts as Cormac holding back.

EXT. DIRT ROAD - JUÁREZ

THE DRUGS are being loaded into A SEWAGE TRUCK, which is DRIVEN ACROSS THE BORDER. It is then HIJACKED by SOME GUYS. After that, it is HIJACKED BACK by THE CARTEL I GUESS?

Also, a CARTEL COURIER is DECAPITATED using PIANO WIRE strung across A ROAD that NO ONE ELSE IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER USES APPARENTLY.

INT. BAR - TEXAS

BRAD calls up MICHAEL for ANOTHER MEETING, PLEASE.

BRAD PITT

Remember the scene where you told Rosie Perez you'd bail her son out of jail? The one this abridged script didn't think substantial enough to go into? Well, turns out the son was a courier for the cartel and now they think you arranged his murder and tried to hijack the shipment for yourself.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Ha ha, that's all just a crazy coincidence!

BRAD PITT

Which is what I told the cartel, but they like to believe that coincidence is a really cheap and contrived screenwriting ploy, so they're going with the version where you're the one responsible. And if you'll recall my parable about the bouncer, they're now going to fuck your shit up.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

What should I do? Tell me what to do. Hmm, given the ratio of counsel given and received, I think this movie should really be called The Counselee.

BRAD PITT

I'm making like a tree and getting the fuck out of here. Go talk to Javier or something.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Ugh, do I have to? Last time I did that, he told me a story about Cameron Diaz dryhumping the windshield of his Ferrari just so people will call this "the movie where Cameron Diaz has sex with a car."

INT. JAVIER'S HOUSE - TEXAS

Against his BETTER JUDGEMENT, MICHAEL goes to see JAVIER.

JAVIER BARDEM

What can I say, Michael? You have consistently ignored my advice. I can't tell from your acting whether you're being arrogant, passive or insincere about all this.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

How about I start weeping silently while I'm talking?

JAVIER BARDEM

That's something I guess. But hey, it's been a full two minutes since the last hokum-laden conversation, so how about we discuss women? Did you know that Cameron is actually a lot smarter than me and I'm afraid of her? Plus she basically admitted that she's going to hang me out to dry.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Rather than suggest that she may be behind this whole deal going south, let's just not consider that at all. So what if she likes cheetahs and that sounds a lot like cheaters? Whatever. God forbid I actually get to do anything proactive.

(continues to just undergo things)

JAVIER is then SHOT by CARTEL MEMBERS and BRAD is BOLITOED by CAMERON'S MEN so she can STEAL ALL HIS MONEY.

BRAD PITT

It's almost insulting how easily my character could have been merged with Javier's.

(dies)

EXT. CITY STREETS - JUÁREZ

MICHAEL puts in a call to RUBÉN BLADES, LEADER OF THE CARTEL I SUPPOSE.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

I'm assuming you guys have kidnapped Penélope. Please don't hurt her!

RUBÉN BLADES

I am truly sorry, Michael. You came to a fork in your road and made a choice that cut you like a knife. Now you see yourself twisted, upside down, as if in a spoon. This is the cutlery of life and you must keep it polished, lest you dull that which is to be remembered.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Jesus wept, I feel like I reached the source of the Matrix.

RUBÉN BLADES

What is to be your legacy, Michael? How will the world that you have created endure? When you go back to the dressing room after a day of shooting, does your character live on or does it die in a wash of makeup remover? Uhh, long story short, fuck you.

(hangs up)

MICHAEL returns to his HOTEL ROOM, where he receives A PACKAGE.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Hmm, I wonder why they would send me a bootleg copy of Diego Olmos' 2006 short film Hola!

(beat)

Oh wait, it's probably a snuff film starring progressively fewer parts of Penélope.

(breaks down crying)

An INSERT shows PENÉLOPE'S HEADLESS BODY being dumped in A LANDFILL, in case it WASN'T OBVIOUS ENOUGH. The DRUGS are then bought by DEAN NORRIS in a scene that only seems to work as AN IRONIC BREAKING BAD JOKE, especially when considering THE CORPSE IN THE BARREL.

INT. RESTAURANT - TEXAS

CAMERON is discussing her FUTURE PLANS with her banker GORAN VISNJIC, because what THIS MOVIE needs RIGHT AT THE END is YET ANOTHER CHARACTER.

CAMERON DIAZ

Where has all this violence left us? To partake of its destiny may leave one ambivalent. It transcends either extreme, but in the end, it is always shaped like itself. Truly.

GORAN VISNJIC

Ugh, all this pseudointellectual dialogue sure sounded good when it was used as context-free voice-over in the trailers, but now that it actually has a context, it doesn't seem to care about it.

CAMERON DIAZ

Fine, let's just eat then. I always get so hungry after a long week of fucking everybody over.

GORAN VISNJIC

Wait, here's some actual food for thought. With this ensemble cast, Cormac on writing duties and Ridley Scott at the helm with the cautionary spectre of Prometheus in his wake, you'd think this movie would have turned out better than merely passable at best.

CAMERON DIAZ

I can say the same for that as I can for Cormac's endless aphorisms and monologues on the inevitability of death: it all looks good on paper.

END