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The Client

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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

THE CLIENT is the fourth of John Grisham's five novels. I read the first four on vacation in Hawaii last year. I saw THE FIRM, awarded it ** 1/2, and gave it a mild thumbs up. I avoided THE PELICAN BRIEF because it got such awful reviews. They have not made movies of the first or fifth books yet. I found that liked the movie, THE CLIENT, for some excellent acting and for the great Grisham plot.

Repeating his THE FUGITIVE type of role, Tommy Lee Jones plays the quintessential prosecutor who would do anything to get the bad guys in jail. Here Jones plays a U.S. Attorney who wants his next job to be that of Governor of Louisiana, hence he wants good press coverage. A young boy (Brad Renfro) may have overheard some information that Jones and the mob both want. He hires a tough but very inexperienced lawyer played by Susan Sarandon to defend his rights and to protect him from both sides. This is the basic plot set up. There are a lot of twists and turns after that - some predictable, some not.

Almost every word Jones utters is terrific. The script is good, but his delivery is what makes it. I love the way he delivers the lines: "I want that boy in court, manana! You hear what I'm say'n?" Almost as good is Sarandon. She plays a complex character that is both tough and vulnerable.

Renfro plays the archetypal burnt out teenager. His performance was acceptable at best. I think they should have got a stronger actor or at least the director, Joel Schumacher, should have given him more guidance. Renfro was not convincing enough for me. Then again, maybe it was the way Grisham wrote the character that I have problems with. There were numerous minor characters of merit. The judge (Ossie Davis) was the best of the small performances.

Copyright 1994 Steve Rhodes

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