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The Client is the name of a 1993 legal thriller novel by John Grisham and its 1994 film adaptation. The film was directed by Joel Schumacher. The main stars were Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Renfro.
The story starts at a trailer park in rural Tennessee, where two boys are seen sneaking away. Mark Sway (Renfro) is a streetwise 11-year-old and a habitual smoker. He is now about to teach his younger brother, Richy (David Speck), how to smoke. They are in their woods by themselves when a black Cadillac suddenly parks at a short distance from their location. It belongs W. Jerome "Romey" Clifford (Walter Olkewicz), a financially secure lawyer from New Orleans. Clifford was looking for a sufficiently isolated location to commit suicide. He thinks this one ought to do.
Mark realizes what is going on and tries to prevent it. A frustrated Clifford captures him and explains that this is pointless, as he is effectively a Dead Man Walking. It seems the lawyer has ties to organized crime and was currently involved in a high-profile case. His client Barry "The Blade" Muldano (Anthony La Paglia) is accused of murdering Senator Boyd Boyette. But the corpse of the victim hasn't been found yes. There is one man other than Muldano who knows of its location, Clifford himself. Clifford narrates in detail the instructions for the location given to him. The problem is that prosecuting attorney "Reverend" Roy Foltrigg (Jones) has figured out Clifford knows and is pressing him hard for the information.
If Clifford keeps his mouth shut, he is going to be accused of withholding evidence and faces incarceration. If he does talk, Muldano is going to arrange for Clifford to be murdered. The lawyer has figured it is Better to Die Than Be Killed. Not long after, Clifford blows his brains out. Ricky is traumatized, but Mark has faces such situations before. He immediately calls the police. Which soon determines that Clifford and the boy shared the car for a while. Mark has just inherited Clifford's problem. Everyone figures the lawyer had confessed to him the location of the missing corpse. Foltrigg places him in custody until he talks, Muldano places a price on his head.
Mark knows that in situations like this, you need a lawyer. Unfortunately for him, he can't afford any particularly established lawyer. Placing his trust in Reggie Love (Sarandon), an inexperienced lawyer with a history of substance abuse. Mark finds that a bit too reminiscent of his hated father to completely trust her.
The film was a box office hit, earning $117,615,211 in the worldwide market. With about $92 million from the United States market, it was the nation's 12th most successful film of the year. The film earned Sarandon a nomination for an Oscar award, winning her several other acting awards. Renfro won a Young Artist Award. For Schumacher, it was another confirmation of his reputation of being able to turn relatively low-budget films to box office hits. This persuaded the studio to entrust Schumacher with his first big-budget franchise film, Batman Forever.
The film gained a spin-off television series, "The Client" (1995-1996). It lasted one season, 20 episodes. Jo Beth Williams was cast as Reggie and John Heard as Roy.
This Movie Contains Examples Of:
- Abusive Parents: Mark explains his relationship with his hated father as such: "That's what all the drunks say, how they're gonna get sober and all. They even say they love you but they don't. And then they come home wasted and beat on you and your mother so bad that you gotta hit 'em in the face with a baseball bat!" ... "I went up there and told the judge myself about all the beatin's, about how he made us sleep in the street."
- The Alcoholic: Both the absent Mr. Sway and Reggie. At least she is in recovery.
- As the Good Book Says...: Roy Foltrigg is nicknamed the "Reverend" because of quoting the Bible at court and coming off as a preacher of shorts. The film hints that his doing it for effect, not because of being particularly religious. He is not even much of a Biblical scholar: "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, so sayeth the Psalms". The Judge immediately corrects him: "That's Proverbs 12:22".
- Ate His Gun: W. Jerome "Romey" Clifford.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: W. Jerome "Romey" Clifford.
- Cheerful Child: Averted. Mark is grouchy at best.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Averted as Mark is neither innocent nor acts cute.
- Hello, Attorney!: Reggie Love as portrayed by both Sarandon and Williams.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Though never specified if Mark Sway was ever an idealist, his dialogue makes it clear how he views the world around him.
- Properly Paranoid: Clifford's neighbors. They have a lot of security around their place telling any trespassers they will be shot.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Judge Harry Roosevelt who puts Foltrigg in his place and looks out for Mark's safety.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Mild example. Mark is a habitual smoker, Ricky is just beginning.