Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Film Appreciation - Another Shark in the Water

This week in Film Appreciation, Jay Burleson takes a trip to the courtroom for the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker. 

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Danny Glover

As a young teenager, I would catch parts of The Rainmaker on the satellite dish. It always intrigued me, yet I never saw the film from start to finish until a few years had passed. When I noticed it was available for five dollars in a bin at my local Wal-Mart, I knew I had to have it. After watching it again I realized just how much I love the film. It has a top-notch director and tons of actors and actresses that I enjoy.

The film is based on a book by John Grisham. Francis Ford Coppola was in an airport when he saw the book for sale and wanted to take a look at how Grishham wrote to see if there was a secret to his success, as he had so many novels on the bestsellers list. Upon completion of his flight, he had decided that The Rainmaker would make a great film. Thus the film adaptation of The Rainmaker was born.

The film and novel are based around a young Memphis lawyer named Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon.) He's an idealistic young guy and wants to do things the right way. Unfortunately he has to work for a real shark-- a lawyer known as Bruiser Stone (Mickey Rourke). Bruiser likes young Rudy and is especially interested in a case Baylor is pursuing that centers around an insurance company and their failure to pay on a claim that is now costing a young man his life. Without an operation he is sure to die and this is troubling to Rudy as he grows closer to the young man and his family. The case looks like it shows signs of life though, as Rudy and Bruiser's right hand man Deck Shifflet (Danny DeVito) get to work on it. Deck knows his stuff except when it comes to the bar exam, which he continuously fails. Rudy also gets mixed up with a young girl named Kelly Riker (Claire Danes) who is the victim of an abusive husband.

The acting is top-notch, as the list of actors and actresses don't stop at the aforementioned group. One of my childhood favorites, Danny Glover, plays the main judge in the film and Jon Voight plays the lead lawyer for Great Benefit, the insurance company that Rudy and co. are suing. Voight is awesome in the role and very easy to hate, but he has that slick Southern charm about him as well. He's perfect as the type of person who almost comes off as sincere in some scenarios. Virginia Madsen, Dean Stockwell, Mary Kay Place, and Teresa Wright all turn in fine performances as well. Outside of Claire Danes and Matt Damon, I think Danny DeVito is the most impressive actor in the entire film. He's a joy to watch as Rudy's new partner and the two of them, although odd as a team, work so well together that you really grow connected to their new law firm and want to see them succeed. I grew up seeing a lot of DeVito in various films but I think this is my favorite performance of his.

The Rainmaker never makes any qualms about whose side we should be on and who the good guys and bad guys are. There's only one bit of grey area for me and that's concerning the Kelly Riker subplot. The fact that the main aspect of the film is cut and dry helps a lot in sitting back and enjoying watching the case unfold, hoping that Rudy and Deck can pull off the unthinkable. This is the type of film that I like to watch when I want to be inspired for greatness, and with the names attached to it, it's no shock that greatness is just what this film is.

1 comment:

  1. I love this movie and have watched it over and over again. This is a feel good movie of ethics and morals. You certainly can watch this movie numerous times without hesitation. The acting is suberb with a stunning all-star cast. The soundtrack is a must with that Memphis smooth sound. Matt Damon along with Jon Voight, Danny Devito, Mary Kay Place, Danny Glover and Mickey Rouke really shine in their performances. Kudos to The Rainmaker- in my opinion stands head and toes among the best great movies! This is a must see and to add to your collection.