Erin Brockovich - movie review (April 13, 2000)

What can one woman do?

This film is based on the true story of Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts), a struggling single mother of three young kids who, after finagling a job at a small law firm, stumbles on a case where it appears that a major utility company has been knowingly releasing poisons into the water supply of a small California town while downplaying the effects of the poisons on the townspeople. Only through Erin's dedication and tenacious efforts to find out the truth can the townspeople have any hope of retribution.

Since I don't know what the actual story is, I don't know how much of the film is based on facts and how much is for dramatization, but regardless, it's a solid story with a terrific script. Mixed in with Erin's colorful language and willingness to show and use her femininity are more complicated issues concerning toxic chemicals and legalities, and all of these elements are well-presented together. There is a slight love story thrown in for good measure, but thankfully (and appropriately), the love story is only a side issue that does not interfere with the bigger story at hand.

Julia Roberts ("Mystic Pizza", "Steel Magnolias", "Pretty Woman", "Sleeping with the Enemy", "My Best Friend's Wedding", "Notting Hill", "Stepmom" and "Runaway Bride") is splendid in the title role. She sheds her good girl image, but in a much better way and much more successfully than she did in "Dying Young", and for once, she is able to have some fun with her girlish figure. (Yes, guys, you'll have a good time.) She does a good job of portraying Erin at each developing stage of the film. Albert Finney ("Murder on the Orient Express" and "The Browning Version") is terrific as Ed Masry, Erin�s tough-as-nails lawyer boss.  Marg Helgenberger (TVs "Ryan's Hope" and TVs "China Beach") is good in a supporting role as one of the affected townspeople.

The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh ("sex, lies and videotape" and "Kafka").

This film is a definite recommend. Leave the kids at home though.


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