The Client is about an 11-year-old boy from a deprived family who witnesses the suicide of a mob lawyer. He in turn becomes a target of the mob as a witness in a court case. Lawyer Reggie Love (Susan Sarandon) takes pity on the boy and offers to defend him free of charge, but ends up with more than she bargained for.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, who is not exactly known for his subtlety, the Client is often heavy-handed in a very 90s type of way. But it benefits from outstanding performances from Sarandon, Tommy Lee-Jones as hotshot public prosecutor Roy Foltrigg and young newcomer Brad Renfro as Mark Sway.
Like the drama, the Howard Shore score feels over the top at times, but comes into its own in the film’s more suspenseful moments, contributing to the tense atmosphere. Schumacher blends courtroom drama with crime thriller as lawyer and client increasingly act outside the legal framework, and raises interesting moral questions – more so that the morally reprehensible A Time to Kill – also by Schumacher and also based around a trial.
Altogether its an effective drama which is engaging throughout and thought-provoking to match.