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The Firm

The Firm

By Patrick Samuel • January 18th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Paramount Pictures

Original release: June 30th, 1993
Running time: 154 minutes

Director: Sydney Pollack
Writers: David Rabe, Robert Towne, David Rayfiel, John Grisham
Composer: Dave Grusin

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Hal Holbrook

The Firm

There’s a time in every teenager’s life when they start to look ahead and think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I remember when my time came because my father made it very clear – I was to either be a doctor or a lawyer. Since I was hopeless at subjects like Biology and Chemistry and better at English and Literature, Law seemed like the most sensible option. I recall my father being very pleased with my choice, and while he busied himself with dreams of telling his friends his youngest son was studying Law, I turned my attention to books, television and films to see what inspiration I could draw from them.

Among them were a handful of John Grisham adaptations that came out during that time, starting with The Firm. Grisham practiced criminal law for a decade while also writing novels. His first one to be published was A Time To Kill in 1989, which he wrote in 1984. The Firm was published in 1991 and two years later was made into a feature film starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. If there was anyone to take inspiration from it would be Grisham since deep down I was more interested in how, as a writer, he intertwined such compelling and character driven stories with so much mystery, danger and adventure. Deep down I really wanted to be a writer too and The Firm was one of those films that made me believe I could do both, for a while at least.

It begins by introducing us to Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) who’s about to graduate from Harvard Law School with a bright and promising future ahead of him. Although he gets a few other offers to work at law firms in New York and Chicago, he settles for Bendini, Lambert & Locke, ‘The Firm’, in Memphis and moves there with his wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn) where he’s met by Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman), his mentor.

The Firm

We see Mitch working very hard at his new job and quickly reaping the benefits, able to enjoy the life he’s never had before. He gets a new house, a new car and while the money and treats from the company pour in, eventually Mitch starts to notice there’s a different side to the firm. After the murder of two of its associates, he’s contacted by Wayne Terrance (Ed Harris), an FBI agent who’s investigating Bendini, Lambert & Locke. Terrance wants Mitch to be his informant and help him gather evidence that the firm’s linked to the mob, but with every associate who’s tried to leave ending up dead, he’s a little apprehensive at first.

He’s also worried about losing his law license if he breaks attorney–client confidentiality during the investigation, but if he doesn’t help the FBI he could face The Firmgoing to jail along with everyone else at the corrupt firm. Either way it will mean and end to his new life and eventually he comes up with a plan that will allow him to help Terrance with his case and not lose his license.

There’s a palpable sense of tension throughout The Firm as these events play out in and around Memphis and the Cayman Islands and Cruise does a fine job of playing the young and bright-eyed lawyer who just wants to get ahead in life but is faced with a terrible choice. While the film also has a strong support cast with Hackman and Harris, there’s also Holly Hunter as Tammy Hemphill, a secretary who helps Mitch copy many of the firm’s files for him to give to Terrance and Hal Holbrook as Oliver Lambert, senior partner at the firm. One look at him and we know Bendini, Lambert & Locke is hiding something sinister behind its respectable façade. Both Holbrook and Hunter are compelling in these small and yet memorable roles.

While the film might have introduced me to Client-Lawyer Relationship Rule 1.6 Confidentiality Of Information ¹, which provides an exception to reveal attorney–client information, it didn’t really inspire me that much to pursue law. None of the legal thrillers I saw or read during that time had such an effect on me and eventually, after spending a few weeks working as a filing clerk in a law firm, I’d realise Law wasn’t the career for me – much to my father’s disappointment, but like we saw with Mitch, sometimes the right choice is the hardest one to make.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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