Forgive me for starting this series of reviews with so many breathless accolades, but here’s another stellar film. And it’s that rare bird, a film adaptation of a book that surpasses the original in quality.
Tom Cruise is Mitch McDeere, an up-and-coming lawyer who has just graduated from Harvard, and he’s courted in a very genteel manner by the Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke. He and his wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn) move to Memphis and Mitch begins his new job. Eventually he discovers that the firm is really controlled by organized crime, and he is now pressured by the FBI to inform on his colleagues.
The movie is almost beat-for-beat a reenactment of the book. The mentor (Gene Hackman). The fixer (Wilford Brimley). The sleazy brother (David Strathairn). Tension and shenanigans abound. What the film brings to the table that the book missed is Mitch’s love of the law. In the book, Mitch swindles everyone and makes off to the Caribbean with a pile of cash. It felt like a real moral let down, more of a lawyer’s personal fantasy than a really engaging drama. In the movie, Mitch finds a remarkable middle ground, which helps bring the firm to its knees, but without sacrificing his own ethics in the process. That’s some good adapting.
I should also mention the stellar musical score by Dave Grusin, which is entirely performed on piano. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it, and it manages to capture every mood perfectly.
I haven’t seen this one in a few years, but I can’t imagine it doesn’t hold up well.
So, Jeanne Tripplehorn was in The Firm with David Strathairn. David Strathairn was in…