Third adaptation of lawyer-turned-novelist John Grisham's books. When young Mark and his brother sneak off to the woods for a smoke, they stumble upon a fat mob lawyer about to commit suicide, who tells Mark where a dead body is hidden. When his brother falls into a coma, Mark is questioned by a hard-boiled FBI Attorney (Tommy Lee Jones), with only his lawyer (Susan Sarandon) battling for her young client's safety from the mob's hitmen.
The exceptionally fine cast--Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, J T Walsh, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Edwards, William H. Macy, Anthony LaPaglia, Ossie Davis and Brad Renfro--goes a long way toward making The Client one of the more solidly enjoyable screen adaptations of a John Grisham southern gothic legal thriller. Teen-hearthrob Renfro is a natural, playing a kid whose life is in jeopardy after he witnesses the death of a Mob lawyer. Susan Sarandon is the attorney who decides to look after the boy; nobody can match her when it comes to playing strong and protective maternal figures (Thelma and Louise, Lorenzo's Oil, Dead Man Walking). Sarandon won her fourth Oscar nomination as best actress for this role, before finally winning the following year for Dead Man Walking. Author Grisham was so impressed with former window dresser/fashion designer/screenwriter-turned-director Joel Schumacher's work on this movie that he later asked him to direct A Time to Kill. --Jim Emerson
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