The Pelican Brief (1993)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

USA, 1993.  Screenplay by Alan J. Pakula, based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Alan J. Pakula.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Excessively long film version of John Grisham’s popular bestseller. This time the lawyer-in-distress plot revolves around a young law student (Julia Roberts) who ruminates on the recent assassination of two key senators and writes her theory about who she thinks did it in a file she calls “The Pelican Brief”. Finding the document to be interesting, her professor/lover (Sam Shepard) lets a few people read it, having no idea that his friend would have come so close to the actual solution to the mystery. Now Roberts is running for her life, with killers and double-crossing friends on her tail, taking on a journalist (Denzel Washington) as her only ally until she can prove her theory and clear her path of danger. Alan J. Pakula directs the film with class and style, but he really needs to be harder on himself in the editing room, there is just not enough reason for this adventure to run at two and a half hours. The film was Roberts’s return to the forefront of Hollywood actresses, having taken a short break after Hook and returning to resounding box office success; she’s done so much better ever since.

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