A young lawyer takes on a fraudulent insurance company that
denied a family's insurance claim, resulting in their son's death.
The Rainmaker (1997)
Written and Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes,
Danny Glover, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke,
Teresa Wright, Virginia Madsen, Roy Scheider, Andrew Shue
Based on the novel by John Grisham
The Rainmaker is one of the best courtroom dramas of the 90's, and a landmark film in the career of Matt Damon. He had a stellar '97-'98, with this film, Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, and Rounders just popping up one after another, turning him into a megastar. But it began with The Rainmaker, a film with heart and soul that keeps you in the thick of the action from beginning to end. As DeVito's character says in the movie, there's nothing better than taking down an insurance company, and while the film's villains may seem overly comical at times, keep in mind that some insurance companies really do deny coverage when some families need it most.
Damon plays Rudy Baylor, a recently graduated law student who takes on a giant case against a insurance company Great Benefit, who denied Dot Black's (Place) coverage, resulting in her son's death from leukemia. It was easily avoidable, and now Dot wants justice for her son. The courtroom scenes are exceptional, with Damon going toe-to-toe with Jon Voight's slimy Leo Drummond. There's a whole subplot with Rudy falling for abuse victim Kelly Riker (Danes) and helping her leave her psychotic husband, as well as another involving shady lawyer Bruiser Stone (Rourke), who ends up saving the day. It's all kinda weird, but it works in the end, which I did not expect.
With such a stellar cast and a relatable and engaging story, The Rainmaker is rightfully counted among the best adaptations of Grisham's work and a fantastic courtroom drama. Damon showed off his chops as a leading man and managed to become Hollywood royalty. The film consistently reminds you that corporations will always step on the little guy, and it's up to us to watch out for each other when it happens. I like that.