When this was made, John Grisham’s stock in Hollywood was so high that one of his shopping lists could probably have spawned a blockbuster movie.
If it had done, it would undoubtedly have followed the formula consolidated by this, the second of the big-screen Grisham dramatisations: dense plotting, lots of legalese, two charismatic leads and a cavalcade of stars in small roles.
Here, Julia Roberts plays aspiring young legal eagle Darby Shaw, who stumbles across a massive conspiracy that reaches right to the Oval Office; her only ally is Denzel Washington’s sceptical reporter Gray Grantham (pictured at right), who finds himself investigating the scoop of a lifetime.
The two leads are fine, but the real coup is the depth of talent in the supporting cast – Sam Shepard and John Heard are among those delivering killer cameos, but everyone is eclipsed by Robert Culp’s witty portrayal of a shifty president.
The plot combines legal thriller with conspiracy movie, so it’s no surprise that the film’s director is Alan J Pakula – whose previous work includes Presumed Innocent and The Parallax View – who weaves his way adeptly through the myriad characters and subplots.
James B Sikking
Sonny Jim Gaines
Alan J Pakula