Erin Brockovich title image
, , , , , , ,
130 min.
Release Date
Erin Brockovich poster

In Erin Brockovich, Steven Soderbergh wields Julia Roberts’ star power to draw public attention to an environmental issue. It’s a shrewd tactic, but typical of the director using A-list actors to expose predatory corporate and capitalistic behaviors. In a modest but inspiring David and Goliath story, Soderbergh’s film follows a single mother of three who talks her way into a minimum-wage job answering phones at an attorney’s office. Before long, she finds herself spearheading a case against a California utility, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), resulting in the biggest direct-action lawsuit settlement ever at that time. “If you’re trying to sneak something under the wire,” Soderbergh told an interviewer, “By which I mean an adult, intelligent film with no sequel potential, no merchandising, no high concept, and no big hook, it’s nice to have one of the world’s most bankable stars sneaking under with you.” Of course, at the turn of the century, few names were associated with the term “Movie Star” as fully as Julia Roberts, then America’s Sweetheart, known for playing women of a certain warmth, genuineness, and moral standing. Even while playing the titular character, distinct for her foul language, animal print garb, and considerable cleavage, Roberts could exude a moral integrity that, combined with some of Erin’s eyebrow-raising behavior, makes her so compelling.

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