|THE RAINMAKER (1997)|
Mary Kay Place
Francis Ford Coppola
|"What's the difference between a lawyer and a hooker? A hooker'll stop screwing you when you're dead."|
|Time: 135 mins.|
Official Web Site
Genre: Courtroom Drama
Though THE RAINMAKER was made before Damon became a superstar, as you sit through this film his talent is obvious. It was only a matter of time before he got noticed. This is a mediocre courtroom drama about a young lawyer fighting for justice from an evil insurance company, that's only made watchable because of him. It must have been hard for Mr. Coppola to be upstaged by his lead actor. That's not to say that I think Matt Damon is a phenomenal actor or that this performance is anything out of the ordinary. He's playing the typical Grisham hero young, good-looking, brilliant and in way over his head. Damon's been much better (check out his performance in COURAGE UNDER FIRE, you won't recognize him), but he actually is able to carry this film, which is not an easy task for any actor. He's lucky that this was one of Grisham's better novels and one that translated fairly well to the screen. What makes Damon interesting is his honesty and good-naturedness. He just looks like someone you could trust.
The main problem with this film is that it's pretty much all over the place. Instead of concentrating on the main story suing a corrupt insurance company for denying a just claim and killing a young man the film spends too much time with subplots that no one really cares about. It's fine for a book, because you're able to spend more time with these other stories and understand how they affect Rudy. In the film, they're barely touched upon. It's all well and good for Rudy to try and save Kelly (Claire Danes) from the husband that is beating her, but what does that have to do with the case at hand? Yes she's pretty and her husband is eventually going to kill her, but besides feeling sorry for her there was nothing in Danes performance that made me understand why he would want to spend the rest of his life with her. Save her, yes. Live with her forever, no. And though it was interesting to see Mickey Rourke acting again, this role was a waste of everyone's time. There was just no reason to include it since it didn't really affect the main plot one way or another.
I'm sure that Coppola didn't want to make just another courtroom drama, but that's the strength of Grisham's work and where the best moments are. DeVito was great again as Rudy's partner, a street smart guy who's tried to pass the Bar over 30 times. He may not be the best lawyer, but he knows the ins and outs of the law and is one of the main reasons Rudy wins the case. Danny Glover gives a good performance as the judge presiding over the trial. Why he chose to be uncredited I don't know. This certainly isn't the worst film he's ever been associated with. If you like Matt Damon and courtroom dramas, this isn't a bad film to sit through. But it's not going to knock your socks off either. It was a much better book, so maybe you should just spend the time reading instead.