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 <email@example.com>
Albert Finney initially turned down the film. Danny DeVito had to convince Finney's girlfriend to convince the actor to change his mind, offering to schedule all of the actor's scenes as Ed Masry closer together so he wouldn't have to be in Los Angeles as long as earlier scheduled. See more »
Erin's kids are playing the Monopoly: Harley-Davidson Authorized Edition, which was not released until 1997. See more »
Ya know why everyone thinks that all lawyers are back stabbing, blood sucking scum bags? cause they are! And I can not believe you expect me to go out, leave my kids with strangers and get people to trust you with *their* lives while all the while your screwing me! You know, Ed, it's not about the number! It's about the way my work is valued in this firm, it's the...
[She looks at the two million dollar bonus check]
Like I was saying, I thought that the number you proposed was ...
[...] See more »
PG&E claims they no longer use hexavalent chromium in any of their compressor plants and that all of their holding ponds are lined to prevent groundwater contamination. See more »
In the TV version aired on NBC, it mutes the several uses of the f-word [usually changing it from f*cking to freaking, or sometimes even cutting out the line[s] of dialogue]. It also, to supposedly make up for lost time during editing, adds a scene not shown on the theatrical or home video version of the film [although it was added as a deleted scene in the DVD]: Erin goes out to her car after storming into the office and shouting at Ed. She feels still feels very sick and then faints. It lands her in the hospital where George comes to visit [explaining why George would come and take care of Erin's kids while she went to get the signatures]. Ed also comes to visit and pleads her to not make stunts like she did again. Erin apologizes and says she's coming to the town meeting, sick or not. See more »
Out of work, out of hope, trashy, twice divorced single mother Erin fails to get another job due to her lack of experience. On her way home she is hit by another car. She goes to lawyer Ed Masry who spectacularly fails to win her any damages. Erin demands he gives her a job and he begrudgingly does. Doing some of his pro-bono work, Erin uncovers evidence that suggests that manufacturing firm PG&E had poisoned the local water supply and lie to residents about the content. As she looks deeper she finds a legacy of illness and a small bit of research turns into a mammoth case.
I don't know how much of this drama is factual and how much of it is changed to add to dramatic effect but regardless the story is involving, funny and moving. At the time there was a rash of 'environmental damage' legal films of which this is one of the more polished and classy. The film focuses as much on Erin as it does on the case and at times it risked failing as a legal drama/thriller. However it still grips as the facts pretty much speak for themselves the film adds to this by creating a real sense of PG&E as a monster without scruples or concern for the residents. As a result the events feel more powerful and involving. It feels slow at times, but if you're into it then it feels patient rather than slow and deliberate rather than laboured.
The biggest reason that the focus on Erin works is because Roberts really does very well giving her Erin a down to earth, trashy feel that could have been hammy or unbelievable (she is a multimillion pound actress after all), but it wasn't. Instead it was realistic and quite warm where she could have been annoying. The grumpy Finney is also good value and seems natural in the role. Eckhart is almost too good to be true but gives a likable performance and is a winning non-distraction.
The film benefits from the style that Soderbergh brings to it. It glides with the grace that he brought to Ocean's 11 and has the rich colouring that parts of Traffic had. His direction really adds to the film and makes the sum feel a little greater that the parts put together.
Overall this may not be the legal thriller that you hoped for and it may move a great deal slower that I thought a Hollywood film would, but it is worth it. The film is patient and worth baring with and Roberts is actually pretty good in the lead! Enjoyable.
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