The Client [Blu-Ray] Joel Schumacher

The Client [Blu-Ray]Joel Schumacher
Joel Schumacher (the man that turned the Batman franchise into a campy, queer spectacle of badness) has always had a weird preoccupation with tackling narratives that delve into male psychology and dominant modes of traditional masculinity. Whether exaggerating the implicit homoerotic aspects of male bonding or criticizing the excess egomaniacal tendencies of a gender that has never had to question its role or motivations, his films tend to work as admonitions of male posturing and solipsism, typically involving the criminal element or something of a supernatural nature. And given his effete nature, this intense hatred, or at least amusement with, men of the heterosexual variety isn't much of a shock, nor is it surprising that his most complex and touching characterizations tend to be women — mothers, in particular. Some of his strongest works (save The Lost Boys and Flatliners) have been his adaptations of John Grisham works A Time to Kill and The Client. More oblique in their criticism of men, having the standard capitalist or redneck cipher standing in for a blanket "villain," they have allowed him to focus on the nature of justice and trust, featuring characters treading morally ambiguous territory with the best of intentions. With The Client, he was able to create a functioning, standard crime thriller, detailing the experiences of a young white trash boy, Mark (Brad Renfro), thrown into a world of chaos after witnessing the suicide of a man involved in a murder, while putting the focus on the relationship between boys and their mothers. Amidst the legal jargon and numerous murder attempts on this unlikely witness, a bond emerges between him and his capable attorney, Reggie Love (Susan Sarandon), who has her own history of failed relationships with children. As she protects him from the potentially threatening legalities of his case, similarly intervening when his role as witness puts his life in danger, she demonstrates the important function that women have in a society filled with warring, territorial men. Having compassion and maternal instinct, even knowing how to lend a hand and manage the expectations of Mark's very young, unemployed and uneducated mother (Mary Louise Parker), she works as the heroine of the film without instigating any sort of conflict. Instead, she merely protects those at risk and manipulates the very system that her male antagonist counterpart (Tommy Lee Jones) has created and exploited for his benefit. In focusing on complex characters he understands — women and boys — Schumacher created one of his smarter and more timeless works, which is something he should reflect on and imitate, considering his angry and misguided films of late. Included with the Blu-Ray is the full television pilot of the proposed The Client TV series, with JoBeth Williams stepping in for Sarandon. Though dated now by sheer changes in the television landscape, it wasn't bad despite the melodramatic writing and archetypal cardboard characters. Of course, it's laughable if viewed within a modern context. (Warner)