Some films entertain. Some films educate. Some films frighten. Some films enlighten. This film did all four. This film represents both the brightest and darkest aspects of being a human and an American in this day and age. It shows the best and worst in people, and showcases the indefatigable spirit that lives inside certain people, even though you'd never know it from looking at their outsides. Erin Brockovich is one of those people, and this (for the most part) is her story.
Julia Roberts, in what may be her best role since Steel Magnolias as far as her acting ability, plays Erin Brockovich, a down-on-her-luck mother of three, fighting for survival in rural California. After a bad day of not getting any prospects on the job front, she gets hit by a speeding jaguar, and takes the driver to court, where her temper and 'colorful language' loses her the case. In a fit of anger and desperation, she marches into her attorney Ed Masry's office (played by Albert Finney) and demands that he hire her. He does, albeit grudgingly, and the story proceeds from there.
This film has no special effect, save for the early car crash. It has no explosions, it has no scenes of violence, although it does have its share of foul language, but it's "common person" language, so it's not offensive, unless you're the person its aimed at. (Favorite line: "Shut the **** up, Krispy Kreme." Only certain people will get the joke when they see the referant.)
What it does have, though, is a story that will get to you, regardless of what avenue of life you come from. It's a story about a woman who is really smart, but never did anything with it, who, almost completely accidentally, stumbles onto a situation where her mind and her charm and her ability to mentally process things allow her to help people who need her help badly and don't even realize it until she begins.
Julie Roberts, hands-down, carries the film. She's got the most on-screen time of any character, and she pulls it off with grace, determination and a large amount of talent. Lately, Julia Roberts has mostly been "pretty" in films, playing ditzy significant-other-wannabe or soft-spoken famous love-interest, but this is what people in Hollywood call a "breakout role". It allows her to be sexy, yet very intelligent, driven, and ultimately successful.
Albert Finney is, as always, fabulous. He can't do a bad film, at least not that I've seen, and his "American accent" if amazing, considering his native British-accented speaking voice. He is both surly and compassionate, brave and cowardly, a very real character and ultimately believable in all his flip-flops, perceived or written, during the film. He is the perfect foil for Roberts' character, the "elder statesman" to her "junior partner" character.
Also, many many props go to Aaron Eckhart as "George", the gentle Harley-Davidson biker who moves in next door and becomes the unsung hero of the film. He, more so than any other character, drives home the message of the film, that appearences are deceiving and you truly shouldn't base your judgements on how someone looks. Roberts' character gets that lesson at the same time the audience does, through George, who turns out to be the anchor that allows Erin to accomplish all that she does.
I give this film a A.This film was well done, no two ways about it, but was too gentle to make the top-grade list. It is a feel-good, true story that deserves to be told and makes you reconsider how much of what you hear from larger corporations you should take at face value, and inserts maybe just the right amount of skepticism and wariness into the American group mind when it comes to our blind acceptance of what our media tells us. It's not always false, but asking for a second opinion is never a bad idea.