Erin Brockovich (2000)

Biography, Drama
Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin, Dawn Didawick
An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply.
Taking full advantage of Julia Roberts's considerable talent and appeal, Erin Brockovich overcomes a few character and plot issues to deliver a smart, thoughtful, and funny legal drama.
  • Universal Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 17 Mar 2000 Released:
  • 15 Aug 2000 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

Trailer:

Enjoyable5/10
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.
a definite winner, uplift, social conscience, and knockout acting10/10

Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich is exactly the uplift picture you've always hoped for. strong acting, moving script, important issues, legitimate procedurals and best of all it is scrupulously faithful to its true story. Struggling outspoken single mom, Erin (the Oscar winning performance by Julie Roberts proving irrevocably that she is more than just tits and teeth), gets on with a law firm run by Ed Masry (Albert Finney in a justifiably nominated supporting role)just in time to break open the biggest direct action corporate lawsuit in american history. it is not a simple magic act either. Erin's got her character flaws (many of which are visited on supportive biker boyfriend George, played by Aaron Eckhart) and the lawsuit is immensely complicated, though Screenwriter Susannah Grant's nominated script keeps it all in focus and understandable. It's the kind of story we can all learn a lot from. Erin works her tail off, polishes her own too harsh rough edges and ultimately wins a richly deserved reward (just the film itself was so amply rewarded.)It's a story that inspires americans to believe in the system and fight against corporate injustice on their own personal level. It's the kind of thing that shows each and every person can make a big difference. everybody should be proud of soderbergh for realizing what a huge hero Erin Brockovich is and for bringing her struggles and triumphs to the screen.
Soderbergh's Visuals in the Service of Roberts.9/10
Despite being somewhat manipulative, despite being based on true events, despite essentially being a Julia Roberts' vehicle to the extreme, Steven Sodebergh hits a home run with his David and Goliath story. ERIN BROCKOVICH tells the story of -- who else -- Erin Brockovich, a single woman who has somehow lost her way and been under hard times. Urgently needing work to pay her bills as she is close to bankrupt she hustles her way into Masry's office and gets a job as a file clerk (much to his and the entire office's resistance due to her over-the-top personality) where she uncovers some papers from Pacific Gas and Electric mixed with other real estate papers which don't add up. Taking matters to her own hands she decides to investigate further and finds that PG and E had been buying people out of their homes and paying for their medical bills because they were covering up the contamination from hexavalent chromium in the community water to which she enlists Masry to bring forth one of the biggest lawsuits in California history.

Where most legal thrillers, in order to succeed, litter their stories with a slew of shady figures and double-crosses and plot twists, ERIN BROCKOVICH succeeds in sticking (like its heroine) to its "little train that could" story from start to finish. While this curbs some of the suspense, it heightens its social aspect because we identify with the little man. We want this woman who has had a hard life to get her case across, and we also want these innocent people who are victims of the "big corporation to get their compensation. It's like a much anticipated fight between Rocky and his adversary but without the sentimentalism: it's not so much will he win, but what will he do to win. This is the kind of film in which we already know at a gut level what will happen, but what we focus on is the battle itself.

ERIN BROCKOVICH also succeeds in its performances, and with that I don't only mean Julia Roberts who with this role has found her inner actress. There is a scene in which Brockovich reveals to Donna Jensen (played by CSI's Marg Helgenberger) that PG and E have not been on her side, going so far as to pay for her medical bills to cover the fact that they have contaminated the water -- water that her kids are playing in -- her quiet horror is registered on her face. Albert Finney also brings some of his quiet to Ed Masry and in turn is able to ground her when things get rough near the end -- he and Roberts light up the screen whenever they are together without having any sexual tension, leaving it all to their acting styles. Veanne Cox is funny in a buttoned-up way as the lawyer who confronts Erin Brockovich, not knowing who she is coming up against. If anything, Aaron Eckhart is the only actor whose role seems a little like filler, or maybe the story didn't know what to do with him once he had effectively seduced Brockovich, but he has some good scenes near the beginning.

Then there is Julia Roberts in a role that should have gone to a more experienced actress -- someone like Felicity Huffmann who actually resembles the real Brockovich but was not a box-office draw. Roberts fully embodies her character and is given line after sharp line to the point that almost every scene ends with a savage quip from her mouth complete with reaction shot. There are even times when her ferocious grip on her character threatens to go into scenery-chewing. However, Soderbergh brings out a complete acting range from Roberts as Brockovich the person as opposed to cartoon, and with this, Roberts can claim this as her breakthrough role which finally separates her from her trademark persona. This was the role in which she got the Oscar for Best Actress, beating out Ellen Burstyn for REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Stephen Soderbergh would also win, but for a different film altogether: TRAFFIC, a film which would also grant acting nominations on its own.
Truth IS Stranger Than Fiction5/10

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.
JULIA ROBERTS SHINES IN HER STRENGTHS AS ERIN BROCKOVICH9/10

Hallelujah for Julia Roberts. She was BORN to play this role! Erin Brockovich is one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in a long time! And I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT THAT!

The element that made Julia Roberts a star in Pretty Woman is very much what carried this movie. Julia's strengths is her ability to play street-wise, honest, and passionate characters. Erin Brockovich is all those things.

The writing is dead on, making Roberts job easier, I am sure. And Roberts delivery of the lines was flawless. SHE WAS ERIN BROCKOVICH. Not that I have ever met the woman...

Only in some places did the movie feel a little slow, I think perhaps, because of what the movie was about. Contamination cases aren't exactly the most exciting of plots, but it doesn't stay in one place too long and keeps moving.

I would pay full price to see this movie again. There is just so much funny dialogue in it.

9 out of 10 I vote.