Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Client

Movie Name: The Client
Year of Release: 1994
Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro, Mary Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia, Anthony Edwards, J.T. Walsh, Will Patton, Bradley Whitford, Anthony Heald, Kim Coates, Kimberly Scott, William H. Macy, Ossie Davis
Genre: Drama, Crime, Mystery
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Joel Schumacher in the early 90s was at the peak of his popularity: following the commercially successful "Flatliners" and "Falling Down", he tackled "The Client", the third adaptation of a John Grisham novel (after the successful Alan J. Pakula's "The Pelican Brief" and Sydney Pollack's "The Firm", both of which came out in 1993). The film follows the story of Mark Sway, an 11 year old boy, who by accident witnesses the suicide of what turns out to be a mob lawyer. An ambitious and aggressive prosecutor sees Mark as a perfect witness to bring down organized crime, while promoting his own political ambitions. Fearing for his and his family's safety, Mark hires Reggie Love, a recovering alcoholic, who has been in practice for 5 years but is knowledgeable of the intricacies of the system.
Joel Schumacher has been a director with a curious track record, where for each interesting film he tackles, there's a string of disappointing ones (in the 90s alone he directed forgettable films such as "Batman and Robin" and "8mm" for instance). "The Client" is one of his best films, where he successfully crafted a suspense thriller and managed to capture fantastic performances from Susan Sarandon, Brad Renfro and Tommy Lee Jones. The adaptations from John Grisham novels are usually quite successful, in the sense that there's always at the core a similar functional story device: the idealistic young hero, trapped in a compromising scenario, from which he has to get out, through sheer intelligence and resourcefulness (traditionally this hero is an attorney). "The Client" is no different, with the attention this time around focused on the weary attorney Reggie Love, and her young client, Mark Sway. Schumacher manages to stage this compelling story in a vivid way, making for a film that is competent and engaging, also benefiting from the cinematography of Tony Pierce-Roberts (known for his work with the Merchant Ivory team). A good film always worth re-watching.