The Rainmaker (1997)

Written by Wuchak on July 29, 2018

‘Good lawyer’ is not an oxymoron

RELEASED IN 1997 and written & directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on John Grisham’s book, "The Rainmaker" stars Matt Damon as an idealistic newbie lawyer in Memphis who takes on a fraudulent insurance company with Danny DeVito as his paralegal and Claire Danes an abused potential love interest. Jon Voight plays the lead lawyer for the insurance company and Roy Scheider the CEO of the corporation.

Beyond Coppola’s renowned expertise, the cast is stellar, which also includes Mickey Rourke as a smooth legal mogul, Virginia Madsen as a witness and Dean Stockwell & Danny Glover as judges. This was Damon’s break out role as a leading man, paving the way for hits like “Good Will Hunting” (1998) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). He’s affable as the principled young lawyer and I liked the way the movie discreetly shows his new home life with the elderly lady, plus other budding relationships.

This is decidedly a drama with many courtroom scenes, so don’t except the thrills of other Grisham-based films, like the excellent “The Firm” (1993) and action-packed “The Pelican Brief” (1993), although there is an intense action sequence in the second half. While the first half confidently take its time with the drama, throwing in moments of realistic amusement, it segues into a compelling third act. Furthermore, “The Rainmaker” is a must for anyone interested in the good, the bad and the ugly of the legal arena in America.

The movie made $46 million domestically from a budget of $40 million (not including revenue from other countries), but it was still considered a disappoint in comparison to “The Firm,” which cost roughly the same amount and made six times as much at the box office. Coppola subsequently took a decade break from directing before reentering the fray with the inscrutable “Youth Without Youth” (2007).

THE FILM RUNS 2 hours, 15 minutes and was shot in the Memphis area of Tennessee, as well as Cleveland, Ohio and California (Alameda, Oakland, San Francisco).