Erin Brockovich (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Soderbergh|
|Produced by||Danny DeVito
|Written by||Susannah Grant|
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Edited by||Anne V. Coates|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures
Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. The film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts, who fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The film was a box office success, and critical reaction was positive.
Roberts won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors' Guild Award and BAFTA for Best Actress. The film itself was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Soderbergh at the 73rd Academy Awards. He won that year, but for directing the film Traffic. Early in the film the real Erin Brockovich has a cameo appearance as a waitress named Julia.
In 1993, Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is an unemployed single mother of three children, who has recently been injured in a traffic accident with a doctor and is suing him. Her lawyer, Ed Masry (Albert Finney), expects to win, but Erin's explosive courtroom behavior under cross-examination loses her the case, and Ed will not return her phone calls afterwards. One day he arrives at work to find her in the office, apparently working. She says that he told her things would work out and they didn't, and that she needed a job. He feels bad for her, and decides to give her a try at the office.
Erin is given files for a real-estate case where Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is offering to purchase the home of Hinkley, California, resident Donna Jensen. Erin is surprised to see medical records in the file and visits Donna, who explains that she had simply kept all her PG&E correspondence together. Donna appreciates PG&E's help: she has had several tumors and her husband has Hodgkin's disease, but PG&E has always supplied a doctor at their own expense. Erin asks why they would do that, and Donna replies, "because of the chromium". Erin begins digging into the case and finds evidence that the groundwater in Hinkley is seriously contaminated with carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, but PG&E has been telling Hinkley residents that they use a safer form of chromium. After several days away from the office doing this research, she is fired by Ed until he realizes that she was working all the time, and sees what she has found out.
Rehired, she continues her research, and over time, visits many Hinkley residents and wins their trust. She finds many cases of tumors and other medical problems in Hinkley. Everyone has been treated by PG&E's doctors and thinks the cluster of cases is just a coincidence, unrelated to the "safe" chromium. The Jensens' claim for compensation grows into a major class-action lawsuit, but the direct evidence only relates to PG&E's Hinkley plant, not to the senior management.
Knowing that PG&E could slow any settlement for years through delays and appeals, Ed takes the opportunity to arrange for disposition by binding arbitration, but a large majority of the plaintiffs must agree to this. Erin returns to Hinkley and persuades all 634 plaintiffs to go along. While she is there, a man approaches her to say that he and his cousin were PG&E employees, but his cousin recently died from the poison. The man says he was tasked with destroying documents at PG&E, but, "as it turns out, I wasn't a very good employee".
He gives Erin the documents: a 1966 memo proves corporate headquarters knew the water was contaminated with hexavalent chromium, did nothing about it, and advised the Hinkley operation to keep this secret. The judge orders PG&E to pay a settlement amount of $333 million to be distributed among the plaintiffs.
In the final scene, Ed hands Erin her bonus payment for the case but warns her he has changed the amount. She explodes into a complaint that she deserves more respect, but is astonished to find that he has increased it—to $2 million.
- Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich
- Albert Finney as Edward L. Masry
- Aaron Eckhart as George
- Marg Helgenberger as Donna Jensen
- Tracey Walter as Charles Embry
- Peter Coyote as Kurt Potter
- Cherry Jones as Pamela Duncan
- Scarlett Pomers as Shanna Jensen
- Conchata Ferrell as Brenda
- Edward L. Masry as Diner Patron
- Veanne Cox as Theresa Dallavale
- Scotty Leavenworth as Matthew Brown
- Gemmenne de la Peña as Katie Brown
- Gina Gallego as Ms. Sanchez
- T.J. Thyne as David Foil
- Valente Rodriguez as Donald
- Erin Brockovich as Julia R., a waitress in the restaurant (cameo)
Erin Brockovich was released on March 17, 2000, in 2,848 theaters and grossed $28.1 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $126.6 million in North America and $130.7 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $257.3 million.
The majority of critics responded favorably towards the film, with Roberts' performance receiving rave reviews. It holds a certified "Fresh" rating of 84% on film review website Rotten Tomatoes and 73 metascore on Metacritic. In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "We get the best of independent cinema and the best of mainstream cinema all in one package. Erin Brockovich, like Wonder Boys right before it, makes the year 2000 seem increasingly promising for movies". Newsweek magazine's David Ansen began his review with, "Julia Roberts is flat-out terrific in Erin Brockovich." Furthermore, he wrote, "Roberts has wasted her effervescence on many paltry projects, but she hits the jackpot this time. Erin, single mother of three, a former Miss Wichita who improbably rallies a community to take on a multi-billion-dollar corporation, is the richest role of her career, simultaneously showing off her comic, dramatic and romantic chops". Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "Roberts shows the emotional toll on Erin as she tries to stay responsible to her children and to a job that has provided her with a first taste of self-esteem". In his review for Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman gave the film a "B+" rating and wrote, "It's a delight to watch Roberts, with her flirtatious sparkle and undertow of melancholy, ricochet off Finney's wonderfully jaded, dry-as-beef-jerky performance as the beleaguered career attorney who knows too much about the loopholes of his profession to have much faith left in it". Sight and Sound magazine's Andrew O'Hehir wrote, "Perhaps the best thing about this relaxed and supremely engaging film (for my money the best work either the director or his star has ever done) is that even its near-fairytale resolution doesn't offer a magical transformation". In her review for the Village Voice, Amy Taubin wrote, "What's pretty original about the picture is that it focuses an investigative drama based on a true story around a comic performance".
However, film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a two-star review, writing, "There is obviously a story here, but Erin Brockovich doesn't make it compelling. The film lacks focus and energy, the character development is facile and thin". In his review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, "After proving, for about 40 minutes, what a marvelous actress she can be, Ms. Roberts spends the next 90 content to be a movie star. As the movie drags on, her performance swells to bursting with moral vanity and phony populism". Time magazine's Richard Corliss found the film to be "slick, grating and false. We bet it makes a bundle".
The film was released on VHS and DVD on August 15, 2000.
Awards and honors
Erin Brockovich received numerous awards. The National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Film Critics Association voted Julia Roberts best actress of the year. The National Society of Film Critics voted Steven Soderbegh best director for his work on both Traffic and Erin Brockovich.
Erin Brockovich received four Golden Globe nominations including Best Dramatic Motion Picture, Best Dramatic Motion Picture Actress (Roberts), Best Director (Soderbergh) and Best Supporting Actor (Albert Finney). It won only one award for Best Dramatic Actress. The film received five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Soderbergh), Best Actress (Roberts), Best Supporting Actor (Finney), and Best Original Screenplay (Susannah Grant). Roberts won Best Actress, the only Academy Award the film received. However, Soderbergh lost out to himself for his work on the film Traffic.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "They’re called boobs, Ed." - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Erin Brockovich - #31
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers:
On her website, Brockovich says the film is "probably 98% accurate". While the general facts of the story are accurate, there are some minor discrepancies between actual events and the movie, as well as a number of controversial and disputed issues more fundamental to the case. In the film, Erin Brockovich appears to deliberately use her cleavage to seduce the water board attendant to allow her to access the documents. Brockovich has acknowledged that her cleavage may have had an influence, but denies consciously trying to influence individuals in this way. In the film, Ed Masry represents Erin Brockovich in the car crash case. In reality, it was his law partner, Jim Vititoe. Brockovich had never been Miss Wichita; she had been Miss Pacific Coast. According to Brockovich, this detail was deliberately changed by Soderbergh as he thought it was "cute" to have her be beauty queen of the region from which she came.
The scientific accuracy of the film has been questioned. According to The New York Times, scientists have suggested that their profession would have more rationally and scientifically evaluated the medical evidence that inspired Brockovich. One scientist who spoke to the paper urged audiences to ask themselves if the science supports the film's assertions.
- "Hollywood Discovers Ventura County". Los Angeles Times. August 1999. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Willens, Michele (June 25, 2000). "Putting Films to the Test, Every Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- "Erin Brockovich". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- Sarris, Andrew (March 19, 2000). "She Doesn't Have a Résumé, but She's Got Other Assets". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Ansen, David (March 13, 2000). "A Trash-Talking Crusader". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Travers, Peter (February 9, 2001). "Erin Brockovich". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- Gleiberman, Owen (March 24, 2000). "Erin Brockovich". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- O'Hehir, Andrew (May 2000). "Erin Brockovich". Sight and Sound. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Taubin, Amy (March 14, 2000). "Tit for Tat". Village Voice. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Ebert, Roger (March 17, 2000). "Erin Brockovich". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- Scott, A.O (March 17, 2000). "Erin Brockovich: High Ideals, Higher Heels". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- Corliss, Richard (March 20, 2000). "Erin Go Bra". Time. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Lyman, Rick (December 20, 2000). "High-Decibel Oscar Buzz". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Cardwell, Diane (January 7, 2001). "Critics Group Honors Quirky List of Film Favorites". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Lyman, Rick (December 22, 2000). "Gladiator and Traffic Lead Globe Nominees". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Lyman, Rick (January 22, 2001). "Surprises but No Dominator at the Golden Globes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Lyman, Rick (February 14, 2001). "Gladiator, Crouching Tiger and Soderbergh Are Oscar Nominees". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- Lyman, Rick (March 26, 2001). "Oscar Spreads the Wealth, but Gladiator Takes Top Prize; Julia Roberts Is Named Best Actress, And Russell Crowe Is Chosen Best Actor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
- "Chasing the Frog - Erin Brockovich - Questioning the Story". Chasing the Frog. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- Masry & Vititoe - Erin Brockovitch resumé
- Kolata, Gina (11 April 2000). "REFLECTIONS; A Hit Movie Is Rated 'F' In Science". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Erin Brockovich|
- Official website
- Erin Brockovich at the Internet Movie Database
- Erin Brockovich at AllMovie
- Erin Brockovich at the TCM Movie Database
- Erin Brockovich at Box Office Mojo
- Erin Brockovich at Rotten Tomatoes
- Erin Brockovich at Metacritic
- Erin Brockovich-Ellis' official site
- Story behind Erin Brockovich with pictures and primary sources from the actual case on which the film is based