A Civil Action (1998)
Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 68
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 27
Intelligent and unconventional.
Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 8
Intelligent and unconventional.
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 21,104
Directed by Schindler's List screenwriter Steve Zaillian, this courtroom drama is based on a true story and non-fiction book by Jonathan Harr. The case revolves around an incident in 1979 in East Woburn, MA, where two drinking wells supplying water to the town were found to be contaminated with industrial solvents. When toxic waste was discovered later that year, suspicions arose that the local factories caused the pollution. The residents felt these companies were responsible for the unusually
Dec 25, 1998 Wide
Jul 13, 1999
William H. Macy
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Based on a true story, this is an intelligent legal thriller, very much in the mode of 1970s issue-oriented films, that may be too subtle and complex for the damands of today's market.
Delivering the verdict two thirds into the movie is anti-climactic, while Schlichtmann's belated atonement feels beside the point.
As proficient a job as writer-director Steve Zaillian and his team do, A Civil Action has unmistakably unraveled by its close.
A slick, shameless job that takes way too long to make its point (namely, we need the EPA).
Schlichtmann may have gone through this conversion in real life, but I just didn't buy it the way Zaillian presents it.
This is a case in which the material really is better served in book form.
While Travolta is passable as Schlichtmann, it is the outstanding work from Duvall, Macy and briefly Tony Shalhoub that drive the story.
I expected a harder hitting indictment against the uncaring power of corporate America. Instead, we get a middlin' courtroom drama that lacks the intensity of such films as the 1982 Sidney Lumet/Paul Newman film, The Verdict.
A legal drama that doesn't follow the usual Hollywood-John Grisham formula.
neatly avoids slipping into melodrama, and despite plenty of niggling minor faults along the way the movie finally succeeds. With a more comfortably cast lead actor it could have been even more powerful.
The film is so daring because it features a protagonist that we cannot and do not sympathize with.
More complex, subtle, perplexing and memorable than the usual courtroom theatrics.
Just when it seemed the courtroom drama was suffering a fatal case of John Grisham, A Civil Action" rescues the genre.
Though the plot plays largely by the numbers, Zaillian treats the material with a welcome level of maturity that manages to sustain interest even when the storyline doesn't.
This David versus Goliath courtroom drama has just the right mixture of legal debate and emotional vibrancy.
Well, I know a movie is not worth seeing if I can't work up the energy to write about it for two weeks.
A fine script from director Steven Zaillian gives all involved plenty to chew.
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