Such solid acting by
Julia Roberts just blew everybody away, but even the secondary
characters were so good that there can be nothing negative about the
movie. The directing must have been really good, too, for Roberts
to steam-roller through this one.
And steam-roller she was. While she couldn't get a job,
and whined at the beginning, the character of Erin knew what her life was
like, and what she wanted from it. And I wouldn't want to be in the
shoes of any person who stood in her way when she had the higher ground.
Roberts got all the good lines, too. They were delivered
so perfectly that it seemed like the other actors were just gaping at her
for a few seconds before they remembered their lines.
Erin forces her way onto the staff of a lawyer who failed to
help her when her car was hit. She has some difficulty at first,
but then stumbles on a case which she doesn't quite understand. The
case is complex, and takes some explaining, and the movie does a terrific
job of explaining it. And the deeper Erin digs, the more complex
It turns out that the local power company in a small town has
been using toxic substances to help its turbines burn hotter, and dumping
it into pools that aren't lined to catch the stuff before it leaks out
to the groundwater.
So the residents are getting sick, only the power company won't
admit that it is the cause. For some reason, the residents aren't
suspicious when the company pays for doctors, who tell than that it is
their lifestyle that is making them sick. Not only that, but the
company sent out pamphlets and held seminars telling the people that this
stuff was good for them!
Erin slowly convinces the residents to join in a class
action suit against the power company. The tension heightens when
her boss brings in another lawyer, who will help him pay the bills, but
who is pretty stuffed-up. The residents begin to bolt, and it takes
a steady and compassionate hand by Erin to bring them all back.
Complicating matters is her relationship with her kids and new
boyfriend. George loves her kids, and doesn't have to work very much,
so he can watch over them all the time. But with all her work and
time going to the case, her kids know George better than they know her.
In a tragic scene that tells it all, George tells her that her youngest
child spoke for the first time one day, while she is talking to him on
the car phone.
But things go well soon after he leaves her, to go have a life.
The firm is able to get her a new car, and enough money to hire a nanny.
Her life goes up and down and up and down again.
She uses her body to its full advantage, too. It is both
funny and insulting, though. The scenes with the young man who clerks
the public works archives are hilarious. She gets more help than
she needs with her push-up bras. But when her boss asks her to dress
in a less revealing way for work, he goes about it the wrong way.
She did not dress in a professional manner, and he should have told her
so. Instead, he tells her that the other women are complaining.
The others, of course, have nowhere near the body that she has. If
he wanted people to take his business seriously, then he should have told
her so. Ironically, when she shows up for meetings with clients and
with the other lawyers, she does dress much more conservatively.
But it's still fun to remember her telling them that she gave over six
hundred blow jobs to get the residents to agree to his proposal!
"Can I sit?" she asks, then falls into a chair. "I'm tired!"
The one weak link I thought was the one that sealed the case,
with the employee who was supposed to destroy documents coming to her and
giving her a copy of one he preserved, linking the company with its parent
company. It came late in the game, and on the sly. The creepy
character turned out to be the good guy who saved the case.
I did like the way the actual case wasn't shown. We didn't
need the court details. All we got was a wonderful scene where Erin
goes to the house where all of this started, and tells her how much money
she was going to get.
I thought it could have ended there, but the epilogue shows the
firm's new offices, and Erin's private office, and we get to see her chew
out her boss again when he presents her with her bonus check. She
thinks he will short-change her, when he has actually given her more than
double what they agreed on. The scene was predictable, but cute,
The movie was appropriately named, as every other character was
pushed to the wayside as Erin investigated the case. She eventually
gets George back, and I think her kids learn to respect her. The
settlement was huge, and the movie makes it look like the toll it took
on her life was worth it.