A Civil Action
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Directed by Schindler's List screenwriter Steve Zaillian, this courtroom drama is based on a true story and non-fiction book by Jonathan Harr. The case revolves around an incident in 1979 in East Woburn, MA, where two drinking wells supplying water to the town were found to be contaminated with industrial solvents. When toxic waste was discovered later that year, suspicions arose that the local factories caused the pollution. The residents felt these companies were responsible for the unusually high rate of leukemia deaths amongst the town's children. Anne Anderson (Kathleen Quinlan),… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Based on a true story, this is an intelligent legal thriller, very much in the mode of 1970s issue-oriented films, that may be too subtle and complex for the damands of today's market."
‑ Emanuel Levy, Variety
"A slick, shameless job that takes way too long to make its point (namely, we need the EPA)."
‑ J. Hoberman, Village Voice
"This is a case in which the material really is better served in book form."
‑ Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"I expected a harder hitting indictment against the uncaring power of corporate America. Instead, we get a middlin' courtroom drama that lacks the intensity of such films as the 1982 Sidney Lumet/Paul Newman film, The Verdict."
‑ Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews
"A legal drama that doesn't follow the usual Hollywood-John Grisham formula."
‑ Judith Egerton, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
"Delivering the verdict two thirds into the movie is anti-climactic, while Schlichtmann's belated atonement feels beside the point."
‑ , Time Out
"Like John Grisham for grownups."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The movie becomes one more David-and-Goliath morality play."
‑ Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic.com
"the film is slightly overlong and the ending is anti-cathartic."
‑ Dragan Antulov, Draxblog Movie Reviews
"neatly avoids slipping into melodrama, and despite plenty of niggling minor faults along the way the movie finally succeeds. With a more comfortably cast lead actor it could have been even more powerful."
‑ James Sanford, Kalamazoo Gazette
"As proficient a job as writer-director Steve Zaillian and his team do, A Civil Action has unmistakably unraveled by its close."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Schlichtmann may have gone through this conversion in real life, but I just didn't buy it the way Zaillian presents it."
‑ Paul Tatara, CNN.com
"While Travolta is passable as Schlichtmann, it is the outstanding work from Duvall, Macy and briefly Tony Shalhoub that drive the story."
‑ Anthony Miele, Film Threat
"... hints at the complex moral issues that vein the story."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"The film is so daring because it features a protagonist that we cannot and do not sympathize with."
‑ Eugene Novikov, Film Blather
More reviews for A Civil Action on Rotten Tomatoes