The new, long-awaited movie, The Counselor (2013), by legendary film director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy, the author star who has been called the “Shakespeare (1564-1616) of the West,” is an ode to the Mannerism of the 16th Century.
Why? Wait and let me explain: This historical period describes an art movement in Europe - mainly in Italy - between the end of the Renaissance (1520) and the beginning of the Baroque (1575). This epoche was marked by the attempt to exaggerate the ideal in literature, art, music and lifestyle; people started to talk, behave and dress sophisticatedly and artificially in an attempt to live above the ideals of human nature, which was basically the aim of the Renaissance artists.
For The Counselor, Ridley Scott, who studied art and painting, created a film set that goes beyond perfection. It’s stylish and exquisite in all details, from the glass house with its expensive interior design to the over-the-top costumes and jewelry of Malkina (Cameron Diaz) and Reiner. Furthermore, each protagonist - from the diamond dealer to the contract killers - is an expert in his “business field“ and act boastful, like gods while their philosophical dialogues sound artificial, like in a Shakesperean drama.
Well and this is all depicted in Javier Bardem’s shirt?
Picture Source: Critic Copyright by 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film
Probably, because he wears a Baroque-style shirt by Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, while he philosophizes in an artifical language with the Counselor (Michael Fassbender). He lectures about the overwhelming beauty of women and the creepy fascination of ideal death by a wire gadget that chops people‘s heads off within a minute.
His vividly colored, Baroque-inspired, silk shirt is a symbol for this manneristic era and style. Moreover, the multicolored vintage top from 1995 is also a reference to the golden age of Versace’s bloated fashion style - often worn by young Russian millionaires with a weakness for everything luxurious in silk and gold - which fits with his outdated, odd decadence. All this stands in contrast to the decently-styled - in beige, white and black - counselor.
Furthermore, Javier Bardem’s character Reiner can be described as an analogy for a harmless butterfly trapped in a glass cage, due to the dozens of printed butterflies on his silk shirt. They symbolize perfectly his fragile life in his glass house in which he feels safe and comfortable, while - in contrast again - the Counselor feels insecure, which seems like another prophetic statement signaling the end.
Moreover, the little butterflies on Reiner’s shirt reflect his scatterbrained speech about topics that range from beauty to brutality.
As I don’t know for sure if movie director Ridley Scott and his costume designer, Janty Yates, had all this in mind when chosing this shirt for Javier Bardem’s role character, I think it’s a nice trivia and assumption.