The Rainmaker celebrates the zeal for justice espoused by a rookie Memphis lawyer. This engaging character-driven screenplay written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola is held together by an entertaining voiceover narration by Michael Herr.
Matt Damon is perfectly cast as Rudy Baylor, a recent law school grad whose first employer is Bruiser Stone (Mickey Rourke), a sleazy lawyer. When this wheeler-dealer is imprisoned, Rudy sets up his own office with Deck Schifflet (Danny DeVito) who is still trying to pass his bar exam. He also finds a place to stay with Miss Birdie (Teresa Wright) who has hired him to handle her estate papers.
Having been beaten as a boy by his father, Rudy is drawn to the plight of Kelly (Claire Danes), a working-class girl whose husband has battered her with a baseball bat. But the young lawyer's meat-and-potatoes case centers around Great Benefit, an insurance company that has refused to pay a claim of one of its policy holders.
Dot Black (Mary Kay Place) whose son is dying of leukemia is suing the company for denying her claim. In the courtroom, the unpolished Rudy is forced to square off against Leo F. Drummond (Jon Voight), a corporate lawyer who knows all the tricks of the trade. This David versus Goliath battle is well worth savoring. Although Rudy's zeal compels us to cheer for him, he is a flawed hero who commits many errors and confronts his own demons. The Rainmaker is one of the best films of the year.