003/2019 – The Rainmaker
Francis Ford Coppola/1997/US/140 mins
Few courtroom dramas have been approached with Coppola’s subtlety. Like always, he spends a considerable amount of time establishing his characters and the world they inhabit. It takes us a while to identify the various strands of stories in Rudy Baylor’s (Matt Damon) life, and settle into a nice groove.
What’s interesting about this groove is how it changes tempo and rhythm at regular intervals, never boring you, and also never jarring you. There are no fiery speeches or revelatory jolts, yet the small surprises inherent to a legal drama are all there to keep you hooked. The steady narrative, and a set of well-etched characters keep it all very cohesive. It is a commentary on the legal system, and the people who put personal gain ahead of upholding the spirit of law.
Rudy’s inexperience is paired with Deck Schifflet’s (Danny De Vito) street-smarts, as they go around ambulance-chasing to keep their new partnership afloat. When Rudy becomes invested emotionally in a few of his clients, Deck’s support is still unwavering. The pair is amazing to watch, as they fumble and be clumsy, and yet display a strong sense of justice and cooperation. Again, as in all Coppola films, the supporting cast is super, invoking awe and empathy; there are Mary Kay Place, Teresa Wright, Virginia Madsen, Jon Voight, Danny Glover, Mickey Rourke, and Claire Danes, all in their element.
The cinematography and editing work in tandem to create a good deal of drama. The courtroom scenes shift perspectives frequently, letting us on as to how the judge, jury, defence or prosecution is viewing the proceedings. A crucial scene involving Damon and Danes at the latter’s home foretells the sequence of events to follow if one notices the framing and mise-en-scene carefully. It is easy to see why John Grisham calls this adaptation his favourite , thanks to a cracking screenplay by Coppola himself.
#BreakfastatCinema #Movies #LearningFromCinema #FrancisFordCoppola #JohnGrisham #MattDamon #DannyDeVito #MaryKayPlace #VirginiaMadsen #JonVoight #DannyGlover #MickeyRourke #ClaireDanes #LegalDrama #Hollywood #CinemaLover