Directed by Joel Schumacher
Based on the novel The Client by John Grisham
Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman and Robert Getchell
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia
After Mark Sway (Renfro) interrupts a suicide attempt by a mafia lawyer, he finds himself sucked into a deadly conspiracy. Now Mark has enlisted the help if small-time attorney Reggie Love (Sarandon) to help him protect his family. As the web closes, Mark is stuck playing a cat-and-mouse game with Barry “the Blade” Muldano (LaPaglia) and his hired thugs. He’s also dodging prosecutor “Reverend” Roy Foltrigg (Jones) who wants Mark to testify against Muldano. Now Mark and Reggie are looking for a way out for Mark and his family.
This film was the second successful film adaptation of the work of John Grisham (The Rainmaker), following on the heels of The Firm. This screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman (Hancock) and Robert Getchell (This Boy’s Life). The movie was directed by Joel Schumacher (A Time to Kill). The cast features stars like Susan Sarandon (Bull Durham), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Mary-Louise Parker (Red), and Anthony Paglia (Empire Records). The title role was a major breakout appearance for the young Brad Renfro (Apt Pupil).
This is an incredible story, based on the best-selling novel by John Grisham. The suspense built into the story is nicely balanced by the intense legal drama that runs like an undercurrent throughout the film. The twists and turns work well, as the mystery unravels in the movie. The action in the movie is handled cautiously, allowing those moments to retain their importance. Overall, the story does a good job of moving forward at a great pace as well. The overall experience feels like a great blend of courtroom drama and crime thriller.
The acting in this movie works nicely. In an excellent stroke of luck, Brad Renfro was cast in what would become his breakout appearance. This casting was actually done due to a contract clause that guaranteed John Grisham casting approval. He opted to seek out an unknown with a true Memphis accent, fearing that an actor faking it would be weak. This was a great start to the excellent casting for this film. Brad Renfro is great in this movie, really bringing energy and the reality of his character’s rough life to the screen. Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones are also great in this one. the two have excellent chemistry as their characters spar with one another throughout the film. Mary-Louise Parker is also good in this one. Like Renfro, she really seemed to pick up on the suffering of her character’s past. Finally, Anthony LaPaglia was a good choice for Barry Muldano. He put together work that kept the part from becoming a stereotypical mafia role. Overall, the cast in this movie does a great job with the story.
Outside of the acting and the story, the film is nicely put together. The locations, costumes, and set design all seem to be exactly what they need to be. The score, written by Howard Shore, does a nice job bringing texture to the film from beginning to end. Specifically, the music seems to accentuate the suspenseful moments of the film wonderfully.
Like the book, this film was very successful. Susan Sarandon earned an Oscar nomination for her work in the movie. If you’re a fan of Grisham, you should check this one out. I would also suggest this movie to anyone who’s a fan of the stars in this one. This is also a great choice for fans of courtroom dramas or thrillers. I give this one 4.7 out of 5 stars.