Friday, April 15, 2016

103. Erin Brockovich

I didn’t think I’d be watching the movie Erin Brockovich tonight. I’m glad I did. My brother, my dad, and I watched the movie after browsing through Netflix for about 15 minutes. It’s not quite a guys movie, but my dad isn’t big on violent movies and my brother doesn’t really care for classics. We all like Julia Roberts, so we settled on that one.

I can tell it was a good movie because my dad stayed awake through the whole thing. The backstory to those who haven’t seen it, Erin is a woman with no formal legal training who forces her way into a job at a law firm. She stumbles upon an incongruency in what had been a pro bono effort, but then she does what all good lawyers (and news reporters) do, she digs. She finds out that the local energy company has been knowingly poisoning the local water supply for years. She eventually rallies the town and wins big. (I know I gave away the ending, but it’s still worth a watch.)

As someone who (sort of) works in the legal field, I really liked it. Erin was someone I could relate to. She wasn’t a fan off bullshit and she let you know it. However, she also empathized with people. She connected with people. Lawyers are famously (or infamously) stereotypes as being money grubbers with no soul, but Erin was able to get past all that.

I struggle with the fact that I think empathy is my best quality. It’s not something that comes up often in job listings. People think empathy should be left to “helping” professions like nurses. (I don’t know about that. I’ve met some mean nurses in my life.) Erin had a lot of empathy and I don’t think she would have won her case had she not been.

I also liked this movie because had Erin had a slightly different job, like journalist, this would have been a better journalism movie than 90% of the movies out there. She was dogged. She went to house after house and just talked to people. She listened and she didn’t take know for an answer. She also knew how to search for government documents (or she learned on the fly.) All good skills for reporters to know.

It was weird that you sort of knew what would happen in this movie, but it never seemed cliche. It was just a bunch of really good victories that added up in response to a terrible tragedy.

There’s another thread of this movie that has to do with her love interest, played by Aaron Eckhardt, and how he takes care of her kids, but I think that would be worth a different blog post.

In the end, this was a heartwarming movie that didn’t fall into heartwarming cliches. It made me remember that it’s ok to empathize with people. In fact, we probably need more of it in our world. I’d recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good story, enjoyable characters, or someone who just needs to see a good win.

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