The Pelican Brief


D: Alan J. Pakula
Warner Bros. (Alan J. Pakula & Pieter Jan Brugge)
US 1993
141 mins
W: Alan J. Pakula [based on the novel by John Grisham]
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Ed: Tom Rolf & Trudy Ship
Mus: James Horner

Julia Roberts (Darby Shaw), Denzel Washington (Gray Grantham), Sam Shepard (Thomas Callahan), John Heard (Gavin Verheek), Tony Goldwyn (Fletcher Coal), James B. Sikking (F. Denton Voyles), William Atherton (Bob Gminski), Robert Kulp (The President)

The 1990's saw many of John Grisham's novels adapted into blockbuster thrillers, of which The Pelican Brief was the first to get the Hollywood makeover.

Unlike the rest of the authors work, this is more political than courtroom-orientated, which might be a little disappointing if you were expecting judges and juries.

Julia Roberts plays a law student whose thesis speculates upon the motives behind the recent assassinations of two leading magistrates. Cages are rattled and she finds her own life in the crosshairs, whilst an investigative journalist presses for her story so he can uncover those responsible.

If US politics isn't your bag, this film will hold little to no interest, as action, thrills and tension takes a back seat for a more conversational-driven stance. The A-list cast ensured box office success, but in all honesty, it's a very disappointing and average piece of work, mundanely directed with none of the performances from the ensemble cast pushing any boundaries.


Denzel Washington & Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief
Denzel Washington & Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief