Julia Roberts turns up her acting a notch in Erin Brockovich. She's Brockovich, the strung-out, vivacious, and determined single mother. Erin begins at the jobless rock-bottom. She concludes the movie doing legal battle with Pacific Light & Electric on behalf of the small town residents poisoned by the company's toxic waste.
Roberts is clearly the star. Her lawyer and boss (Finney) is among the many clunky and unattractive characters who are well-drawn, but occasionally seem included only to underscore Roberts' glow. Like similarly themed A Civil Action, Erin Brockovich is based on a true story. The heroic role allows Roberts to go from angry and righteous to sensitive and back to righteous while exuding an earthy sensitivity throughout. The film isn't particularly surprising although its attention to detail and craft will ensure success.