November 07, 2012
My husband and I were enjoying a lovely Friday evening at home flipping through channels when we landed on The Pelican Brief. To be honest, I have only ever started one John Grisham novel. Unfortunately, I got busy and never finished it. For some reason, The Pelican Brief piqued my interest, so we watched it. Now, I am fully aware the book and movie were released in the early 90s and that inevitably things are going to change in 20 years, but I was blown away by how much. Spoiler ALERT: All will not be revealed, but a substantial portion will be, so please do not read on if you don’t want to know.
The story unfolds with assassination of two Supreme Court justices. While the President attends memorial services, a clever young law school student (Julia Roberts) discovers a possible reason and culprit for the assassinations. With the help of her professor and boyfriend, her report (known as The Pelican Brief) is passed throughout all levels of government and eventually lands in the hands of the President. Cue the frantic music; this is when people start dying or at least start dying faster. As the plot continues, our now-on-the-run law student hooks up with an intrepid young journalist (Denzel Washington), and as a team, they set about proving what she already knows. In the end, Denzel and Julia, aka Gray and Darby, find the proof, tell the world, and all is right. Side note, I really like this about Grisham. Most of his characters get at least a partial happy ending.
Now, here is why I think this could never happen in 2012. First, what is the likelihood that this shrewd, resourceful law student would not have posted this Pelican Brief on her blog? Continuing with this theme, what is the likelihood that millions of people would know about before even the FBI? A major plot point in the movie is the presence of only one copy of this brief. In 2012, we have the cloud. While the FBI is good, it is much harder to stop the spread of information in this day and age. Amazon and Google have replaced the floppy disc.
This point leads me to my next one. With social media in 2012, how would the assassinations of two Supreme Court Justices go unnoticed? In the movie, no one seems concerned. Twitter announced the death of Osama Bin Laden before the government had confirmed it. The likelihood of Darby being the first and only one to question and then write about the motivations of the murders is stupendously slim.
Despite these issues, I still really enjoyed the movie. It lit a Grisham fire in me. I have since watched The Client (my favorite) and The Firm. Next on my list is A Time to Kill and The Rainmaker. I decided to give the books a second chance. Who knows, maybe all of the issues I had are resolved in the book. I am planning on reading them in chronological publishing order. Up first, A Time to Kill. Apparently, I am a fan of the legal thriller.
Happy briefing all!