Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
Starring: Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Danny DeVito, Jon Voight, Teresa Wright, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke, Virginia Madsen, Andrew Shue, Johnny Whitworth, Red West / Director: Francis Ford Coppola / Released by: Paramount Pictures
Francis Ford Coppola brings to life John Grisham’s The Rainmaker. The injustices of a major health insurance corporation and the struggle of a neophyte attorney are the centerpieces to this novel gone motion picture. Matt Damon plays the fresh-out-of-law-school attorney, Rudy Baylor. He is joined by Danny DeVito a.k.a. Deck Shifflet, a streetwise lawyer wannabe. Together DeVito and Damon represent a newly formed partnership handling their first case. The case is the denial of medical coverage to Donny Ray Black (Johnny Whitworth), a young leukemia victim. Another David and Goliath story played out in the courtroom.
Novels often suffer in translation to the big screen and The Rainmaker is no exception. The complexities of the storyline are often simplified to focus on a single thread of novel. Throughout “The Rainmaker”, one can detect the interplayings of these various stories; however, without the depth that a book provides all we get is the sense that there is more to this story. The other effect is the characters often seem two dimensional, more caricatures than people.
“The Rainmaker” contains profanity, violence, and mature subject matter, including terminal illness and wife battery. The profanity is mild. The violence is very bloody, very realistic, and of a very disturbing nature. “The Rainmaker” touches upon issues that cannot be treated lightly (domestic violence, justifiable manslaughter, terminal illness); however, this movie does nothing to shed new light on any of these subjects. Keep the kids at home.
If courtroom drama is your cup of tea, you will enjoy “The Rainmaker” (and I would recommend reading the book). Otherwise you will not miss anything by passing on this movie.
Year of Release—1997