Showing Grisham Some Reggie Love

If I need anything from you boys like the truth I expect to get it - Reggie

Brad Renfro as Mark Sway in The Client (1994)

There was a time when you could say I was addicted to John Grisham, I read all his novels sometimes more than once and whilst I would never class them as great they were ideal for someone who liked a mix of drama and light action. In many ways they read like movies which had been turned into books and so with that in mind it is no surprise so many of them have been adapted to the big screen. The irony is that when they have been adapted to the big screen the simplicity of them becomes apparent, especially when it comes to "The Client" because what we basically have here is a young kid with valuable information, the FBI want him, the mob wants him and the only person he can trust is a lawyer called Reggie Love. It is shall we say an unoriginal idea despite being nicely put together and in the end "The Client" ends up not so much being entertaining because of Grisham's story but because of the acting and casting of Brad Renfro, Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones.

Whilst hiding in the woods Mark Sway (Brad Renfro - Sleepers) and his younger brother come across a man trying to commit suicide, attempting to stop him but failing Mark learns that the dead man is a lawyer to the mob and knows where the mob have buried a body. With this information not only are the FBI lead by 'Reverend' Roy Foltrigg (Tommy Lee Jones - Blown Away) keen to speak to him but the mob need to silence him. Afraid and unsure who he can trust Mark finds himself a lawyer in Reggie Love (Susan Sarandon - White Palace) who gives as good as it gets when it comes to the cunning of Foltrigg.

Susan Sarandon as Reggie Love in The Client (1994)

So as already mentioned "The Client" isn't the most original of stories as we have young Mark who has valuable information about a dead body buried by the mob. He doesn't know who he can trust because the mob will kill him and his family if he blabs whilst the FBI only seem interested in evidence and not protecting him, especially 'Reverend' Roy Foltrigg who knows Mark's evidence will lead to them getting to the mob and being a feather in his cap. It is simple stuff and entertaining because behind all of Mark's cockiness he is scared and his only friend happens to be lawyer Reggie Love who he ends up going to for help.

But whilst a simple set up it is the perfect vehicle for a movie because it allows for various entertaining elements. We have the small time Reggie Love out smarting the arrogant 'Reverend' Roy when it comes to Mark giving evidence. And as the story progresses we have action as the mob can't wait any longer and plan to kill Mark and his family as well. It means we have amusing banter as professionals lock horns plus chases and danger when the mob has enough.

And to be honest it is nicely put together because whilst we have this focus on entertainment there is some reasoning to it all. When Mark discovers that Reggie had been in hospital for alcohol addiction he's angered because his own father was a drunk and this leads to Reggie having a maternal instinct towards mark because she lost her own children when she lost her way. It is things like this which give reasoning which makes it more than just a movie about action but doesn't make it anyway complicated to follow.

But the thing about "The Client" is that all of this would be ordinary if it wasn't for 3 interesting characters and 3 clever bits of casting. The sadly departed Brad Renfro is brilliant as the cocky Mark delivering the attitude and bravado of the young man who disrespects authority yet gets across the vulnerability as well, brilliant considering this was Renfro's first movie. Then there is Tommy Lee Jones who comes across as arrogant and demanding as 'Reverend' Roy, a little cold but you get a sense that beneath the career driven exterior is a good man. But the winning performance is from Susan Sarandon as Reggie Love because we get some sexy Southern sassiness mixed with this maternal aspect and a razor sharp mind when she locks horns with Roy. Basically not only do you fall in love with Reggie but you believe her as a character.

What this all boils down to is that "The Client" is entertaining but it is less to do with the story and more to do with a trio of good performances from Brad Renfro, Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones.

Tags: John Grisham

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