Monday, August 24, 2020

Movie Monday: The Rainmaker

As usual, I was searching for a free movie to watch on Saturday evening (while waiting for my husband to bring home our favorite burgers & fries take-out from a local restaurant). On a list of "best thrillers on Amazon Prime," I found The Rainmaker, a 1997 movie, adapted from a John Grisham novel. Featuring an all-star cast, it is more of a legal drama than a thriller. I don't know how we missed it when it first came out, since we are both Grisham fans, but we thoroughly enjoyed it this weekend on the small screen.

As with most Grisham stories, this one is set in the South, this time in Memphis. Matt Damon stars as Rudy Baylor, a brand-new lawyer just out of law school. In need of some income, he takes a job with Bruiser Stone, played by Mickey Rourke, a successful but crooked lawyer. Bruiser encourages Rudy to find his own clients (that's the only way he'll earn a living) and bring in his own business, but honest, humble Rudy balks at being an "ambulance chaser." He already has two cases, though: a will for an elderly woman (who agrees he can rent a room from her) and an insurance case concerning a young man dying of cancer whose parents' health insurance has refused to pay for his treatments. In hanging out at the hospital, per Bruiser's instructions, Rudy also meets Kelly, played by Claire Danes, who has been put in the hospital by her abusive husband, bringing back Rudy's memories of his alcoholic father who beat both his mother and him. Deck, played by Danny DeVito, is a smart and experienced lawyer-wanna-be who hasn't yet passed the bar exam and also works for Bruiser. When Bruiser's office is raided by the Feds, Rudy and Deck decide to hang their own shingle. Rudy's insurance case, which he feels strongly about to get justice for the family, turns out to be a much bigger case than expected, as the insurance company is a huge conglomerate that sends out a team of expensive-suited lawyers who expect to stomp on newbie Rudy and his poor clients. Tensions build as the case finally goes to court, and both sides try to convince the jury of their position. It's a classic David-and-Goliath story.

We both enjoyed this courtroom drama very much. It's a multi-faceted story, with Rudy juggling the multiple cases, Rudy and Deck trying to start their partnership, and the big trial. The cast is outstanding, and we were constantly and pleasantly surprised by the young actors who have gone on to achieve greatness (as well as the older ones we recognized from long careers). Rudy is the kind of character who is great fun to root for: the kind, honest underdog up against corporate greed. Combining excellent source material with that talented cast and direction from Francis Ford Coppola, it's classic Grisham and also classic movie magic.

The Rainmaker is currently available on Amazon Prime or on DVD.

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