Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) is an idealistic young Tennessee lawyer fresh out of law school. Rudy along with his cynical partner Deck Shifflet (Danny DeVito) decide start their own firm when their boss Lyman “Bruiser” Stone (Mickey Rourke) investigated for unethical practices and take with them three clients. The first is Miss Birdsong (Teresa Wright), an elderly client whose will he has been drafting. The second Kelly Riker (Claire Danes), a battered wife who’s filing for divorce from her savage husband. The third Dot (Mary Kay Place) and Buddy Black (Red West), whose 22-year-old son Donny Ray (Johnny Whitworth) is terminally ill from leukaemia. Due to the insurance company Great Benefit denying claims to pay for medical insurance for a bone marrow transplant that would most likely have saved Donny Rays live, the family decide to sue. Rudy and Deck take on accomplished and cunning lawyer Leo Drummond (Jon Voight) who represents the corrupt insurance company in the case of his life.
The story is an adaption of the John Grisham novel “The Rainmaker” a book that I have never read but really should get around to. The film resonates with the same feelings of “To Kill a Mocking Bird” when the lawyer go’s head to head fighting the corruption in the face of almost certain defeat. Rudy is able to hold his ground, helped in many ways by the luck of having a sympatric Judge Tyrone Kipler (Danny Glover) who himself was a civil rights lawyer. This highly dramatic courtroom drama is not all about the courtroom drama, the story knits together all of the elements from his other cases, who become more like family than clients. The undercurrent of humour was a much needed element used balance out the weightiness of the main plot and was provided perfectly by Danny DeVito’s character.
Why did I choose this movie, well it had been a good few years since I had last watched it and every memory I have was a powerful one. People have said that this film is a protracted putdown of the legal profession and though it does show lawyers at their very worst it also shows them at their very best. However Rudy Baylor narrates “Each time you try a case, you step over the line. You do it enough times and you forget where the line is” portrays that the ultimate power of lawyering is ultimately corrupting. The Rainmaker was as much about the cast as it was the story. It is a powerful movie that brought me to tears with the commanding performances of all the cast from small to leading roles. In many ways it falls into the trap that a lot of book adaptations do in that it is compared to the book, it also falls into the trap of being compared to the Directors earlier works, which is a great shame as it a superb piece of film making. Entertaining from beginning to end this movie is one of my all-time favourites and some of Damon’s best early work. I positively enthralling movie that is a must watch!