• Publication date: October 14, 2011

A Single Mom Takes on Corporate Sleaziness A Single Mom Takes on Corporate Sleaziness

Julia Roberts portrays real-life activist Erin Brockovich, a struggling single mom who initiated a legal battle with a multibillion-dollar corporation and prevailed. It all began quite simply.

Julia Roberts portrays real-life activist Erin Brockovich, a struggling single mom who initiated a legal battle with a multibillion-dollar corporation and prevailed. It all began quite simply. Brockovich sought the help of Lebanese-American lawyer Edward L. Masry (Albert Finney) after an automobile collision injured her. To both Masry and his client it seemed like an open and shut case; evidence suggested that the defendant was responsible for the crash, and as such should pay Brockovich for monetary damages in addition to her pain and suffering.

To the plaintiff and her attorney's surprise the court thought differently though: Brockovich did not receive a penny. With a mere $16 in her bank account and no job the future seemed bleak, particularly for her three children. Erin's unemployment was not due to lack of effort, but lack of opportunities. If nothing else her reaction to the ruling affirmed the mother's willpower. Since Masry's defense proved inadequate she demanded a job at his firm. With a mere high school education, however, such a position seemed out of reach ? if available at all. Initially he declined his client's request. As a result, Brockovich refused to leave the lawyer's office except with a job.

Masry eventually caved into Erin's request and hired her as a file clerk. Aside from being scantily clad and foul-mouthed, the new hire performed exceptionally. Still no one would have ever guessed she would uncover one of the most appalling environmental crimes in history.

One day while Erin was sorting through various real estate cases she found a file that contained medical documents. Her interest was immediately piqued. Why would a case about home ownership require medical evidence? The documents indicated that the Pacific Gas and Electric Company had purchased the home of an elderly woman named Donna Jensen (Marg Helgenberger), but why? Brockovich gets in touch with Donna, who reveals that PG&E not only purchased the home, but also paid for the woman's medical treatment. Brockovich probes further and discovers that Miss Jensen was a victim of chromium poisoning.

Rather than plainly acknowledge responsibility, PG&E paid to cover up the incident fearing that a scandal would erupt. Erin begins interviewing hundreds of the town's residents and gathers medical statistics, discovering that an astounding number of individuals shared Jensen's medical ailments. Circumstantial evidence seems to indicate not only PG&E's complicity in the poisonings, but their awareness of it for years. Now all Brockovich needs is a smoking gun, and it is eventually placed right into her own hands.

Julia Roberts was awarded a Golden Globe, Oscar, Teen Choice, and MTV Movie Award for her performance. At the box office the film earned more than $256 million internationally. The soundtrack features songs from female pop artist Sheryl Crow.

Year: 2000

Duration: 130 minutes

Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance

Starring:

Julia Roberts

Albert Finney

Aaron Eckhart

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Rating: Rated R due to explicit language.