Thursday, October 28, 2010

Susan Sarandon, in The Client
approximately 37 minutes and 21 seconds
32.2% of the film

The film

A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to protect him when the district attorney tries to use him to take down a mob family.
You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

The Client is an action flick, so the focus is not meant to be on character development or stuff that might end up too deep. And that’s fine, because it’s not a bad suspense/thriller, even though it has its downfalls mainly due to the screenplay. Sarandon and especially Brad Renfro deliver good performances.

Susan Sarandon as Reggie Love

We don’t get to see Susan Sarandon on screen, nor do we get to hear anything about her character, until the film had already approximately reached its 28th minute. While I’m not saying we’re dealing with category fraud, the film’s true leading character is the client, the boy she’s representing and protecting. Even so: Susan might show up quite late in the film, but from there on she clearly represents the voice of justice and the most emotionally complex character that the film has to offer.

Susan plays Regina ‘Reggie’ Love, a lawyer who is accidentally chosen to represent a client who happens to know some secrets about a mob murder. The client is a loud mouthed 11 year old boy and Regina becomes his protector and also a kind of a mother figure. Because, you see, Regina has secrets of her own: a history of drugs and alcohol abuse and grown-up children that don’t want to see her. The role sounds more of a challenge than it actually is; what we get to find out is mostly because of Susan rather than because of the screenplay.

The character has two big elements defining it: first there’s the brave lawyer-woman who can face anything and then there’s the fragile Reggie, a person who has been through a lot and she’s a survivor of her own mistakes. The one we notice the most is the fierce lawyer.

Susan Sarandon usually inspires that respect that brings some kind of seriousness and professional-believability to most of her roles. Here, she’s no different: I totally believe her in the role because I sense this woman is intelligent. Susan makes Reggie powerful, but not rigid, she makes her fun, cool, but also gives her that winning touch that pretty much makes her the hero of the film. Reggie represents justice and, despite her own doubts at times, she succeeds in what she sets up to do.

By doing that, Susan really wins the sympathy of the viewer. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but that’s it: I LIKE Reggie and I want her to win; everything. And as you know: what I feel for the character usually influences my perspective on the performance; the emotional side of it counts a lot from where I’m standing. But even considering this great quality, there’s still a feeling of I’m not seeing enough.

Her emotional moment when she confesses about her past and talks about her children is wonderful, that’s a great scene played beautifully by Susan. Unfortunately, except for this scene and a couple of crumbs here and there, the screenplay doesn’t rise to the occasion in giving her the character she deserves. She is great with that she has, she’s tough and brave in the lawyery scenes, she’s vulnerable when it’s needed, but lacks the BIG moment to take the performance to greatness.

Is Sarandon better than her usual self? Probably not, but she’s such a good actress that even her regular good is above others’ performances and definitely above the screenplay. She brings charisma and intelligence to the role and those are bonus points, but when you have just 30-something minutes on screen, in a regular suspense flick, you still get the feeling something’s missing. I don’t know, performances this year become harder and harder to read; but this is a strong for Susan.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I'm glad you generally liked it. As I said, the novel was one of the first I read and Susan's characterisation is so different and yet so similar to the novel. You're so right when you say she has that quality about her that makes her seem so very trustworthy. I've always believed that her eyes and voice are her biggest attributes. She has so emotion in the eyes, and her voice is piercing but not shrill.

It's probably not as vivid a performance as I remember, but I really like it.

joe burns said...

I think she'll probably come in third, it sounds like a good performance.

Alex in Movieland said...

yes, the likeability factor is pretty obvious. can't miss that :)

top 3 for sure, to say the least.

Elgart said...

Sounds interesting after I started to read a bunch of the review. I will definitely check this out.