Release Year: 1994
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writers: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Robert Getchell (screenplay), John Grisham (based on his 1993 novel The Client)
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia, J.T. Walsh, Anthony Edwards, Will Patton, Bradley Whitford, Anthony Heald, Kim Coates, Kimberley Scott, William H. Macy, David Speck, Ossie Davis, Micole Mercurio
Rating: Nominated for 1 Oscar: Best Actress (Susan Sarandon).
A young boy and his brother witness the suicide of a mob lawyer after he has shares his knowledge of the location of a dead body. A District Attorney (Tommy Lee Jones) tries his best to squeeze the information he need from the boy to further the case and his own career, while an inexperienced attorney (Susan Sarandon) decides to protect him and his family.
John Grisham was apparently all the rage in the mid 1990s, not only did his books sell like crazy a number of his books were also made into successful movies. Joel Schumacher apparently like Grisham’s work so much that he adapted another of his books, A Time to a Kill (1996), only two years later. Grisham’s work combined the inner workings of the law (he was a lawyer before his career as a novelist) often outside of the courtroom which is usually the dramatic setting of law thrillers. In The Client, 11-year-old Mark Sway witnesses something no child should and at comes away from the encounter with a traumatized little brother and a deadly piece of knowledge. It’s not long before the career-mongering District Attorney Roy Foltrigg tries to get his claws in him, but Mark is sensible enough to have hired attorney Reggie Love for 1 dollar and now the question becomes how to stay alive when both the FBI and the mafia is out to get you. It has a few thrilling scenes that are far from inventive or memorable, but the relationship between Mark and Love, both of whom have troubled pasts, is quite engaging. Jones (The Homesman, 2014) is good as usual, Brad Renfro is excellent in his début role as tough-as-nails yet vulnerable kid Mark, and Susan Sarandon delivers in spades in a role that earned her an Oscar nomination. Good stuff but mostly for Grisham fans.
At the time for filming John Grisham had casting approval of all adaptions of his work. For The Client he specifically demanded “professional child actor” for the role of Mark Sway. He wanted a local kid who could get the accent right and felt that the actor needed to be an unknown. Tennessee born Brad Renfro won the part over a thousand others.
Picture Copyright: Warner Bros.