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The Rainmaker

Year: 1997
Production Co: Constellation Entertainment
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer: Francis Ford Coppola/John Grisham
Cast: Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Dean Stockwell, Danny Glover, Mickey Rourke, Roy Scheider, Virginia Madsen

I was very surprised to see Francis Ford Coppola's name as director of this John Grisham adaptation, which I'd mistaken for another Grisham film and subsequently knew nothing about.

There was something about it that sat very badly with me. It had a lot to do with the soundtrack (which was all wrong for this kind of film), and it an old-style staginess and a The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -esque excess of plotting. It was not only over two hours long as a result, but for a Coppola movie it was a very phoned-in potboiler.

Matt Damon looks like a high school graduate as novice lawyer Rudy. After his first job, and a mostly redundant first act that merely sets him up with worldly, cynical, ambulance-chasing partner Deck (DeVito), the story starts.

In representing a young man dying from leukemia his insurance company won't cover, Rudy overturns what he believes to be corruption at the highest level of the firm, and he goes up against all the legal resources of much more experienced counsel and deep pockets that they can muster.

It's very much a John Grisham book on the screen, with a very strong cause-and-affect narrative and not too much depth behind it. The subplot of the wife suffering domestic violence (Danes) that Rudy falls for might give him some humanity but has little to do with the case at hand.

It feels like Coppola copied down the novel verbatim, and Grisham was so much at the height of his popularity at the time it's possible he had veto power of the script and made sure every twist and turn was in there.

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