A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to "find herself".
Erin Brockovich-Ellis is an unemployed single mother, desperate to find a job, but is having no luck. This losing streak even extends to a failed lawsuit against a doctor in a car accident she was in. With no alternative, she successfully browbeats her lawyer to give her a job in compensation for the loss. While no one takes her seriously, with her trashy clothes and earthy manners, that soon changes when she begins to investigate a suspicious real estate case involving the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. What she discovers is that the company is trying quietly to buy land that was contaminated by hexavalent chromium, a deadly toxic waste that the company is improperly and illegally dumping and, in turn, poisoning the residents in the area. As she digs deeper, Erin finds herself leading point in a series of events that would involve her law firm in one of the biggest class action lawsuits in American history against a multi-billion dollar corporation. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If I didn't know it was based on a "true" story I might have dismissed this movie as "unrealistic", particularly in the first half hour or so when it started off like another Julia Roberts comedy. At the beginning the film appears to focus primarily on her wardrobe, her foul language, and the developing romance with the "boy next door", whom she initially dislikes. As it turns out, the actual story, according to the bonus features on the DVD was even more melodramatic than the film's. The real Erin actually got sick to the point of hospitalization from the chromium in Hinkley. The director wisely decided to cut out this part of the story, to avoid making her too much of a martyr. Another aspect while not totally ignored (she does mention at least once that she's a "slow reader") but underplayed is Erin's dyslexia. This makes her accomplishments all the more amazing! Personally, I think this fact could have been emphasized more, as no doubt it was a big factor behind her "attitude" problems - her combativeness toward people with more education than herself, her struggles in finding a job, perhaps even in her efforts to accentuate her physical attractiveness through her outrageous clothing. All in all I found it an enjoyable and enlightening story - the triumph of a unique individual whose determination, empathy, and sense of moral duty ultimately outweigh her abrasiveness and lack of social graces. And largely why she triumphs is her partnership with an intelligent and decent lawyer in Ed Masry. What a refreshing departure from the usual Hollywood stereotype! On many occasions, he effectively counters Erin's prejudices with rational explanations how and why the legal system works the way it does, and why lawyers behave the way they do. With her passion and his reason, they make a great team. Now if only the movie hadn't fallen into the old Hollywood trap of giving its leading lady more outfits than is realistic for someone of her economic status. The point that Erin dressed provocatively and this caused problems with her co-workers could have easily been made with just 3 or 4 costumes. Other than that, it was a good movie - great performances and a wonderful story.
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