The Client

The Client is a 1994 American legal thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, and starring Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones and the late actor Brad Renfro in his movie debut as well as a supporting cast of Mary Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia, JT Walsh, Anthony Heald, Kim Coates, Bradley Whitford & William H Macy with Dan Castellaenetta. It is based on the novel of the same name by John Grisham. The film was released in the United States on July 20, 1994.

Eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his little brother, Ricky, are smoking cigarettes in the woods near their home when they encounter Mob lawyer Jerome Clifford who is attempting to commit suicide. Clifford tells Mark that he is about to kill himself to avoid being murdered by Barry “The Blade” Muldano, the nephew of notorious mob kingpin Johnny Sulari. Ricky becomes catatonic after witnessing the suicide and is hospitalized. Authorities–and the Mob–realize that Clifford may have told Mark where a Louisiana senator who was murdered by Muldano is buried. As the cops, FBI, a prosecution team lead by “Reverend” Roy Foltrigg and the mob would like to know what the boy knows, Mark goes and seeks a lawyer and finds child care specialist Reggie Love.

Reggie, a divorcee and recovering alcoholic agrees to represent him even though he has no money to pay her. She wires him to entrap Roy and his legal team who try to question the boy without a guardian present.  In the meantime, it is revealed that Sulari never authorized Muldano to kill the senator and wants Muldano to uncover how much the boys know. Muldano is also ordered to move the body, but currently he is unable to because it is buried in Clifford’s boathouse, and police are still on the property investigating his suicide. Foltrigg continues to use legal means to get Mark to reveal where the body is hidden, while Sulari orders Muldano to kill the children and Reggie. He also orders the body to be moved once the investigation at Clifford’s home is concluded. Mark is threatened in a hospital elevator by a member of the Mafia, and is unable to talk to Foltrigg.

The boy escapes from the clutches of the mob’s killer sent to silence him and meets up with Reggie and the two  go to New Orleans to confirm that the body is on Clifford’s property. Reggie intends to use this information to broker a deal with Foltrigg to get Ricky specialized medical care and place the family in the witness protection program. Reggie and Mark arrive at Clifford’s house the same night as Muldano and his accomplices. They are digging up the body, but a melee follows when Mark and Reggie are discovered. Muldano and the others flee after Reggie trips the neighbors’ alarm. Foltrigg agrees to Reggie’s demands in exchange for information about the body’s location. Before the Sway family leaves to restart their lives under new identities, Mark and Reggie share a heartfelt goodbye.

Although not explicitly stated, Sulari has had enough of Muldano and intends to have his nephew killed. With the body recovered, Foltrigg is a lock-in for the media headlines he craves, and mentions that he intends to run for governor. Foltrigg, who had plans all along to use the high profile case to boost his election campaign for governor, however shows his softer side as he offers Reggie a job in his team, impressed by what she has shown. She smiles but refuses and leaves with her assistant.

A very entertaining movie with some awesome performances, especially Sarandon, Jones and the then 11 year old Brad. Renfro would go on to act in more movies that showcased his talent and did well until the trappings of fame caught up with him and he faded in a haze of alcohol and drugs. He died from a heroin overdose at the age of 25. The movie is a must watch. 8.5 outta 10!

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