A Civil Action  (1998)    69/100

Rating :   69/100                                                                       115 Min       15

John Travolta leads in this true tale depicting one team of lawyer’s fight against the corrupt practices of big business – in this case Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace and Company, who stood jointly accused of dumping toxic waste into the water supply for the town of Woburn in Massachusetts, leading to a stark rise in cases of Leukaemia in the area during the 1980s. Initially motivated by the potential for a large financial payout at the expense of said companies, Travolta (playing lawyer Jan Schlichtmann) soon begins to realise the true extent of the human tragedy and all but runs his business into the ground trying to get justice for the families involved, much to the chagrin of his practice associates (William H. Macy, Tony Shalhoub and Zeljko Ivanek).

Robert Duvall has a memorable (and indeed, Oscar nominated) turn as the eccentric, but skilled, opposing lawyer, as the story exposes the inherent difficulties of proving such corporate wrong doing in a court of law, and also some of the machinations of the American legal system and the legal profession itself as a business – will definitely remind modern viewers of the more recent, and just as noteworthy, ‘Dark Waters’ (2019) starring Mark Ruffalo. With support from the late James Gandolfini, Kathleen Quinlan, John Lithgow, Sydney Pollack and Stephen Fry.

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