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ERIN BROCKOVICH

SYNOPSIS:
Twice divorced mother of three, Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is trying to find a job, while juggling the responsibilities of her children. A car accident, in which she is not at fault, leads her to Ed Masry (Albert Finney), an attorney of a small law firm, whose defence leaves her with no settlement. She bullies Masry into employing her, and then stumbles on some medical reports, filed in real estate files. On investigation, she discovers a cover-up involving contaminated water in a local community which is causing devastating and fatal illnesses among its residents. Her children, meantime, are being looked after by her lover, bikie neighbour George (Aaron Eckhart), who is becoming increasingly resentful of the time Erin is spending on her job. The cover-up and resulting court case leads to the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in US history and brings Erin new self-respect and upgrades her life.

"It starts out as one of those days when everything goes wrong for Erin Brockovich, an absorbing and inspiring story of an individual who not only defies the system, but in the process redefines her life and self respect. Like many true stories, there's little rhyme or reason about many of the elements, and Steven Soderbergh has captured a spontaneous, non-gloss feel by his linear approach and the use of two cameras throughout. While the mainstay of the story recounts the damaged individual versus nasty corporation theme, the story of Erin Brockovich is really a personal tale and one of personal triumph. This is a role that taps into all of Julia's Roberts best qualities and strengths. Roberts charms us totally by her magnificent portrayal of this headstrong, wilful character who is not prepared to compromise. Looking sensational all legs, tight tops and scooped necklines - she combines a balance of street-smart sassiness with a little-girl lost vulnerability; the way her expressive face lights up every time she smiles is pure screen magic. The casting of both Albert Finney and Aaron Eckhart as the men impacting on her life is very effective. Erin and Ed are a wonderful example of opposites complimenting the other: each brings about a positive change in the other. It's a big jump from Eckhart's character in In the Company of Men to that of house-husband/bikie George, reinforcing his range and talent. What starts as a means to an end becomes a mission, quickly developing into an obsession. The resulting self-respect and brand new life is an unexpected bonus: a reinforcement of our admiration for the human spirit. Erin Brockovich will move you by its integrity, stun you with its candour and irony - and captivate you with its performances."
Louise Keller

"You could be forgiven for thinking that Erin Brockovich's (Julia Roberts) two ex-husbands are paying their alimony in the form of bimbo wardrobe, considering the volume and intensity of Erin's outfits. While her wardrobe is indeed a legitimate - and no doubt fact based - descriptive device for character and its surprising contents in a nave but determined young woman, it is also one of those Hollywood-isms that tend to jar by being overdone. So is the fluffed hair that reads 'movie star playing here'. But the film overcomes these 'studio' misjudgements with Steven Soderbergh's non-studio touch in the casting and the direction. Drawing on his ability (first seen in sex, lies and videotape) to tease out emotionally switched on performances and punching them through the screen into the audience, Soderbergh relishes the Davida and Goliath Inc story, sidestepping stereotypes almost entirely. The exceptions, predictably, are some of the lawyers, who never get an even break in these films (see A Civil Action). Julia Roberts, however, is irresistibly effective as a heroine whose journey is uplifting without being sloppy or slushy. Albert Finney is as welcome in this environment as is Peter Coyote, two outstanding actors with lots to offer. The facts of the story (even if we don't know the accuracy of the details) are well told and the characters well defined. Solid, entertaining, engaging, emotionally fulfilling and often funny, Erin Brokovich is a satisfying movie."
Andrew L. Urban

"Touching on themes and ideas advanced in 1983's Silkwood as well as last year's A Civil Action, Erin Brockovich frames its eponymous protagonist's crusade to make an uncaring corporate monolith accountable for its sins against a backdrop brimming with all the minutiae attendant to a single mother's daily domestic travails. Though corporate skullduggery remains the nominal plot hook, the real tenor of Susannah Grant's screenplay runs along familiar populist lines. Brockovich's amazing against-the-odds victory is akin to Rocky Balboa walking away with the championship belt. It's a time-honoured "underdog who triumphs" scenario made all the more sweeter here not just by the fact that it's a true story, but because the dragonslayer in question is actually a blousy, tough-talking divorcee lacking even a formal education let alone any legal qualifications. Making the most of a wardrobe consisting of low-cut tops, mini skirts and precarious high heels, Julia Roberts' Brockovich is a no-nonsense, working class girl with the kind of street-smart chutzpah only a lifetime of adversity could buy. It's an intuitive, career-crowning performance that augers well for the actress's Oscar chances next year. Not to be outdone, Albert Finney is also in fine form as Brockovich's long-suffering boss and mentor, Ed Masry. A consistently engaging film from a director well-versed in the mechanics of every genre he tackles."
Leo Cameron

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

JULIA ROBERTS talks about Erin Brockovich

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ERIN BROCKOVICH (M)
(US)

CAST: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart, Peter Coyote

PRODUCERS: Danny Devito, Michael Shambert, Stacey Sher

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh

SCRIPT: Susannah Grant

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ed Lachman A.S.C.

EDITOR: Anne V. Coates A.C.E.

MUSIC: Thomas Newman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Phil Messina

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 13, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Home

Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: November 15, 2000







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