The Client (1994)
Joel Schumacher never was the most subtle of storytellers. He tends to resort to archtypes and overdramatizations for effect, and this film about a hardnosed 11-year-old trailer park kid who witnesses a suicide in the woods and finds himself stuck in a tug-of-war between government officials and the mob, is no exception. Although this narrative style may have been less conspicuous in the midst of the 1990s style of filmmaking, today it comes off as glaring and – not least – totally unnecessary. Because this story doesn't need Schumacher's "help" to come off as powerful; it's got all the ingredients of a tight and effective thriller as it is, complete with an attractive human factor to boot. Susan Sarandon helps to save several scenes and reminds us that this really is all about a kid in an unbearable predicament, something not many of Schumacher's other larger-than-life characters seem to pay much attention to. Of course, they're caricatured for a reason (genre-conventions and Hollywood are words that spring to mind), and in the formula that it tries to fit, The Client is as polished and well-made as intended. Tommy Lee Jones seems to have seen through it all and decided to have a little fun with his part. J. T. Walsh, Anthony Edwards and William H. Macy are other fine performers in underdeveloped parts.