The Pelican Brief [Blu-ray] Alan J. Pakula

The Pelican Brief [Blu-ray] Alan J. Pakula
As proven recently by the critical success of Tell No One, novels devoid of subtext, meaning and complex characterizations have a tendency to be more effectively adapted to the big screen, given the simple necessity of adhering to plot machinations. Such is the case with the John Grisham oeuvre, as his novels tend to be functional rather than profound or artistic, telling a story but never asking the reader to think. The Pelican Brief is a shining example of this, as the film adaptation proves to be entirely entertaining on a visceral, claustrophobic level, free of pesky allegory and expression. Pairing Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington ensures mainstream audience connection without elaborate characterization, and a humdrum political conspiracy plot with well-timed revelations and chases keeps up engagement for the film's two-hour duration. Aside from sheer superficiality, the only quibble might be director Alan J. Pakula's tendency for awkward zooms and bizarre cuts during moments of suspense, which might be derived from a lack of comfort, given his established career working on dramas (Sophie's Choice, All the President's Men). Pointing out the inherent dangers of knowledge, The Pelican Brief follows Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts), a law student who writes a brief speculating on who might be behind the murders of two Supreme Court justices. When her professor/lover Thomas Callahan (Sam Shepard) tosses the brief to his F.B.I. buddy Gavin (John Heard), both men wind up dead and Darby ends up on the run. Having nowhere else to turn, Ms. Shaw enlists the help of influential journalist Grey Grantham (Denzel Washington), who does his best to reveal the truth. While the Blu-Ray release of the film looks and sounds great, a lack of supplements keeps the release from being anything spectacular. The only inclusion is a theatrical trailer. (Warner)