The Client (1994 film)

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The Client
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Produced by Arnon Milchan
Steven Reuther
Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman
Robert Getchell
Based on The Client 
by John Grisham
Starring Susan Sarandon
Tommy Lee Jones
Brad Renfro
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Tony Pierce-Roberts
Edited by Robert Brown
Regency Enterprises
Alcor Films
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • July 20, 1994 (1994-07-20)
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million[citation needed]
Box office $117,615,211[1]

The Client is a 1994 American legal thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, and starring Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, and Brad Renfro. It is based on the novel of the same name by John Grisham. The film was released in the United States on July 20, 1994.


Mark Sway and his little brother, Ricky, are sneaking cigarettes in the forest near their home when they witness the suicide of Mob lawyer Jerome Clifford. Prior to his suicide, Clifford reveals to Mark that he is killing himself to avoid being murdered by Barry "The Blade" Muldanno, the nephew of notorious mob kingpin "Uncle Johnny" Sulari. As a result of witnessing the suicide, Ricky goes into shock and is hospitalized. It soon becomes apparent to authorities - and the Mob - that Clifford might have revealed to Mark the location of the body of a Louisiana senator believed to have been murdered by Muldanno.

Mark seeks out a lawyer and finds Regina "Reggie" Love, a recovering alcoholic, who agrees to defend him in court. They quickly run afoul of Roy Foltrigg, a celebrated and vain US Attorney who is attempting to solve the case as a springboard to greater ambitions. In the meantime, it is revealed that Sulari never authorized Muldanno to make the hit on the senator and is requiring Muldanno to try and figure out how much the boys know about the location of the body. Muldanno is also required to move the body, but isn't immediately able to because he had buried it in Clifford's boathouse, and the cops are still on the property investigating his suicide.

As all parties become increasingly desperate, Foltrigg tries to go to continued legal lengths to determine the location of the body through Mark's testimony, while Sulari eventually orders Muldanno to kill the children and their lawyer to avoid any further screw-ups in trying to deal with the case. He also orders the body moved once the investigation at Clifford's home is over.

Mark and Reggie go to New Orleans to confirm that the body is still where he was told it is, knowing that it is their only bargaining chip to get Ricky the help he needs, and to place the family in protective custody. They arrive the same night as Muldanno and his fellow Mafia goons, who begin digging up the body but are stopped by Mark and Reggie. In the melee that follows, the goons flee when the neighbor's alarm is tripped and the authorities are summoned.

Knowing that the body is there, Reggie is able to use the information as a bargaining chip to get the family the full slate of protective custody and medical help for Ricky, as well as a new home and job for the children's mother. Mark and Reggie share a heartfelt goodbye—both of them admit to loving one another. Although not explicitly stated, it becomes apparent that Sulari has had enough of Muldanno and is going to have his nephew killed. With the body recovered, Foltrigg is a lock-in for the newspaper headlines he craves, and makes mention that he intends to run for governor.



Box office[edit]

The film was a financial success, earning $92,115,211 at the North American domestic box office and an additional $25,500,000 internationally, for a worldwide total of $117,615,211.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film received generally positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews from 35 critics to give the film a score of 80%, with an average score of 6.1 out of 10.[2]

Roger Ebert gave the film a score of 2.5 out of 4.[3]


For her work in the film, Sarandon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.[citation needed]


The film spawned a TV series of the same name, starring JoBeth Williams and John Heard. The show lasted one season (1995–1996).

See also[edit]


External links[edit]