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The Rainmaker
USA, Germany
Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
Francis Ford Coppola
Wayne Emmons as Prince Thomas
Dean Stockwell as Judge Harvey Hale
Red West as Buddy Black
Andrew Shue as Cliff Riker
Virginia Madsen as Jackie Lemancyzk
Mary Kay Place as Dot Black
Johnny Whitworth as Donny Ray Black
Teresa Wright as Colleen 'Miss Birdie' Birdsong
Jon Voight as Leo F. Drummond
Claire Danes as Kelly Riker
Roy Scheider as Wilfred Keeley
Mickey Rourke as Bruiser Stone
Matt Damon as Rudy Baylor
Danny DeVito as Deck Shifflet
Storyline: Rudy Baylor is a jobless young attorney. However, he is also the only hope of an elderly couple whose insurance company will not pay for an operation that could save their son's life. In this judicial drama, Rudy learns to hate corporate America as he falls in love with a battered young married woman. Will he be up to the task?
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A good lawyer movie yet subtle
I found this movie to be the best lawyer movie I've seen. Usually, there's so much talk I don't understand and It's boring, so I don't pay attention. It wasn't like that for The Rainmaker.

I think Matt Damon was perfect for this part because he seems to have the nice, simple look to him which his character was. I think someone else could have pulled off his character, but for some reason it just suited him.

One major reason I really enjoyed this movie was because Rudy was a hardworking under dog (which I can relate to). And besides, who doesn't like those sort of people?

It would have been better if it weren't so damn subtle, but hey, you can't get everything your way.
A modern story of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza
First of all, I must say that Coppola is one of my favourite ones, so perhaps I'm a bit predisposed to say only good things about his films... but in any case I'll try not to be subjective. Obviously (at least for me) this isn't a great film like some other works by this director (The Godfather...), but it's worth to be seen even twice. I mean you can't think you wasted your time when you leave the theater. Concerning other aspects, I must say that I can't avoid to think of the similarity between the couple Damon-De Vito and the characters Don Quijote and Sancho Panza from the famous novel by Cervantes. As in the novel, Damon is a knight that fights for a lost cause, and De Vito is a practical man who always tries to take benefit from every situation. As the film progresses (and as in the novel) Damon transmits his spirit to De Vito and finally he fights for the cause with even more conviction than Damon (and he is even fat and short like the novel character...!) One negative point: It's comforting to see the truth and justice prevail over everything, but I can't accept Damon as the final hero when he killed another man and nothing happened to him. Nobody has the rights to take away the life of another, no matter who he/she is... My rating is 6-7 out of 10.
Just pray you don't get jury duty on this film...
John Grisham has proved himself to be the literary lawyer. His books open the courtrooms to the masses, and allow the underdog to rule the day. With that said, not every Grisham novel is best told in the cinematic language. From "The Firm" to "A Time to Kill" and now to "The Rainmaker" directors and studios have tried to bring the elaborately well written stories to the screen with the same panache and excitement that is in the binded world – and yet every time, they fail. The films are entertaining, but after one viewing – the ability to view a repeat performance has lost momentum. Recently, "The Rainmaker" came across my DVD player, and I was forced to endure a repetitive story, one-dimensional characters, and a predictable ending that left me gasping for some originality. One must admit that Francis Ford Coppola does attempt to bring a level of authenticity to the screen, but it is the mediocre Matt Damon and the always odd Danny DeVito that force this film to flounder. Also, condensing a 443-page book into just over two hours is difficult. There is quite a bit lost within the translation, and "The Rainmaker" is no exception. From the lacking cardboard-esquire relationship between Damon and Claire Danes all the way to the less-than-exciting courtroom element, "The Rainmaker" struggles to hold on, and after 12 years, it just doesn't remain as pivotal as it once, perhaps, was.

Re-watching this film for the first time in ten years, I wasn't expecting Oscar-caliber performances, nor was I walking in with great unrealistic hopes – which may be the reason it didn't further my desire to watch more Grisham adaptations. All I wanted from this film was an enjoyable two hours, but even that was a struggle. The beginning struggle with "The Rainmaker" comes from Coppola's choice of pacing. There is quite a bit of down time with this film, where we (as audience members) are merely watching small, unimportant character development that led nowhere. Damon cutting grass, hanging out in a hospital, asleep at his desk, or late for his most important case ever – are all within this film, but edited stronger – leaving these small unneeded bits out – would have tightened this story further. Coppola feels as if he has more information than this film can process within the time allowed. This hurts not only the film as a whole, but the individual parts (i.e. the characters, the tone, and the intended drama) as well. Because the editing was loose, we are lost when Damon heads to help his questionable love interest Claire Danes. We are lost as to the direction of Damon's relationship with "Bruiser". We are lost as to the focus of DeVito's character, who represents himself as smarter than Coppola gives him credit for. So, to add to the mix of disheveled actors this plot that fails because of the lack of editing and character development, we have a sloppy film that is liked by too many.

Plot. Aristotle said "plot matters", and it should be believed that those involved with "The Rainmaker" should have paid further attention to this decree. "The Rainmaker" is a film about a newbie lawyer taking his first big case which is in essence the simplistic story of big business versus the little poverty of America. It is a strong beginning, but we loose focus when we add other elements that are never fully explained. Is Danes really in love with Damon who is portrayed as someone merely eager to help her, not fall in love? How influential was "Bruiser" to Damon's upbringing as a lawyer? Did anyone else believe that when Danny Glover was introduced as the sympathetic judge that this case was predetermined? Wouldn't anyone notice DeVito wasn't a lawyer – as smart as the defense was? Voight was slimy, but was it just his accent that made him that way? Then, we have the utterly realistic, but completely misplaced ending that felt cheap instead of honest. There was supposed to be emotion from the family who suffered the loss, but we are left with such little time dedicated to either side, that we just feel bored. Not a tear was struck with the emotion pulled out at the end, and I think that is an indication of how poorly Coppola directed this film.

Overall, "The Rainmaker" leaves you with further disappointment than originally thought. A courtroom drama is always worth at least one slick move, at least one important cameo, and one highly emotional scene that leaves you with the impression of how good these lawyers and genre's can be. "The Rainmaker" had none of these. Scaling this film among those like "A Few Good Men" or even Grisham's "The Firm", it falls well below. If you walk in with no expectations, than perhaps this film will uplift your spirits. Alas, for me – there was just a lacking plot, a terrible edit, and wafer-esquire characters that hurt the determined tone of this film. It was an embarrassing outing for Coppola as a director, but also the courtroom drama genre. There are better films that fit the bill out there, avoid this one.

Grade: ** out of *****
Solid courtroom thriller
A thorough and often exciting David and Goliath courtroom drama from Francis Ford Coppola, interestingly. It's a rather prosaic film - one gets the feeling that it accurately represents Grisham's novel - but has great performances and a sure control of the tension.

Matt Damon was yet to become a superstar with Good Will Hunting but is totally assured as a mop-topped rookie lawyer who has yet to attain the bar. Danny Devito does one of his stock shifty/hustler turns as the ambulance-chaser Shifflet who Damon hooks up with. The supporting cast is a familiar ensemble who give the film the gravitas that its increasingly depressing plot threads require; I particularly liked the self-sacrificing loveliness of Clare Danes. 6/10
Best Grisham Ever Written & Best Coppola Ever Filmed
Francis Ford Coppola is both scriptwriter and director of this film entitled,The Rainmaker. It was adapted from the John Grisham novel about broke, inexperienced Memphis law-school graduate Rudy Baylor.It stars Matt Damon as Rudy Baylor together with an ensemble cast namely: Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Roy Scheider, Mickey Rourke, Virginia Madsen,Mary Kay Place and Teresa Wright in her final film.

Rudy Baylor, ready to take any job he can find. Signing on with slimy Bruiser Stone, he learns ambulance-chasing tactics from Bruiser's leg man Deck Schifflet and meets battered teen Kelly Riker (Claire Danes), abused by her husband. Baylor has his own clients -- friendly Miss Birdie, who has a large estate to dispose of, and desperate Dot Black, whose son Donnie Ray has terminal leukemia. Medical intervention could have spared his life, but the Great Benefit Insurance Company denied coverage, preventing Donnie Ray from getting a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Rudy finds a place to live in the apartment behind Miss Birdie's house. Deck and Rudy split from Bruiser to start their small firm. When they take on the Blacks' case, they go up against the insurance company's high-priced law firm and are continually thwarted by slick lawyer Leo F. Drummond.

Coppola has infused The Rainmaker with enough humor, character, honest emotion and storytelling style to make it a very entertaining movie.Aside from that,the story is characterized with intelligence and subtlety that makes it interesting from beginning to end.Aside from that,the cast performed very well.Special mention should be given to Jon Voight and Danny DeVito. While Matt Damon did certainly provide great acting as the young Rudy Baylor. This legal drama is definitely one of the best that Grisham has ever written and Coppola has ever filmed.
Good Clean Storytelling
I was amazed at how good this flick turned out to be, and I believe that's mostly because it's so understated. This is a great example of what Francis Ford Coppola is capable of when he concentrates on using his craft to tell the story rather than convince the world that he's an artist: He gets really fine, realistic performances out of a collection of skilled journeyman performers.

Damon stands out in the lead. His ambivalence with his own skill at the more ethically borderline aspects of the law comes through strongly -- while his character is clearly satisfied that his actions are justified, he's not happy he's had to go as far as he does. Damon communicates this ambivalence with a seemingly effortless skill that lets the character speak instead of the movie star.
better than average courtroom drama
well, this aint nowhere near francis best but it doiesnt reach the dismal depths of jack either. sure its very emotionally manipulative-we are left in no doubt that great benefit are lucifers spawn and rudy's team are angels-nevertheless, there are only a handful of films that can make me cry everytime and the rainmaker is one of them. its a bit of a rip off of the earlier 'Philadelphia' with tom hanks (incidentally another of those films that make me teary eyed) but it stands alone as a decent courtroom drama that i have enjoyed multiple viewings of. better than average performances by most of the cast-jon voight does a great job as head of the evil lawyers- but nothing about this movie screams greatness, so i give it a 7/10.
Lawyer flick delivers.
I'm always wary of films which pit an inexperienced lawyer against an evil corporate giant. But The Rainmaker is not your typical courtroom drama. Sure the story may stick to the lawyer-flick norm, but the sub-plot and supporting acting is very strong. Danny Devito shines as Matt Damon's partner, delivering an inspired performance which capivates your attention. The sub-plot is believable and rejects following a 'happily ever after' scenario. Damon's portrayal of Rudy Baylor is consistent and carries this film through to the end. The Rainmaker proves that legal battles can be interesting to watch, even if the little guy always wins.
Good movie
Danny Devito is one of the most underrated actor's of our time. Sure he's not drop dead handsome, but he's one great actor. Look at Batman Returns and Rainmaker, can you get anymore diverse? He has such a great screen presence, I'd love to see him in more films. He's also a producer as well and a great one at that.
Very fine and perfectly balanced movie which uses legal profession as means to provoke you thinking about virtues
Matt Damon went hard on this one! If you want to learn how to act like a gentleman, look up to Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) manners. He's smart, hard working and most of all friendly and helping guy. He treats everybody with respect.

Danny DeVito plays Baylor's sidekick. Even though Deck (DeVito) is practically an expert on insurance companies, Baylor is the man. Deck gathers information and advises but Baylor does all the really noble job. Interesting inversion which serves to point out that virtues are generally more important than knowledge alone.

This movie will inspire you to become a better at your profession by inspiring you to become a better man.
See Also
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