Nevertheless, The Rainmaker did relatively well and its actors got good reviews. Its director, Francis Ford Coppola, who also did the screenplay, got positive comments as well. According to Roger Ebert, "I have enjoyed several of the movies based on Grisham novels ... but I've usually seen the storyteller's craft rather than the novelist's art being reflected. ... By keeping all of the little people in focus, Coppola shows the variety of a young lawyer's life, where every client is necessary and most of them need a lot more than a lawyer." (Ebert)
The plot of the movie revolves much around Rudy Baylor, a young lawyer who would have wanted to make it big in very first case that he handles. Being the central figure, the main conflict of the film dwells on his first legal challenge, a case regarding a family's struggle to make an insurance company pay for the surgical operation of a son afflicted with leukemia. While doing so, Baylor also has to deal with the conflict between making money a priority as a lawyer and standing up for the 'small people' against a huge unscrupulous insurance firm, Great Benefit, and its host predatory lawyers led by Leo Drummond. The conflict between making his profession as a milking cow and dignifying it by accommodating a worthy cause of the less-privileged is even made more intense as Baylor is partnered by a six-time bar flunker, Deck Schifflet. Schifflet tries to convince him to do everything, including illegal methods, just to win the case and bag a huge sum of attorney's fees from the defendant insurance company. Acknowledging Schifflet's rich experience and his grave lack of it, Baylor later agrees to the suggestions especially when he developed a passion in fighting for the oppressed claimants. At one point the conflict between self-interest and the interests of his lowly clients peaked seemingly when has to take measures in helping the woman he loved, Kelly Riker, from a violently abusive husband.
All these conflicts, of course, are resolved at the end of the movie. Baylor and his clients, the Blacks, won the case against Drummond and Great Benefit. This has been done partly because of the Baylor's litigation skills and Schifflet's off-hand tactics. However, an Afro-American judge with a good background in civil rights also contributed much to the victory. Drummond and Great Benefit, in a desperate but wicked move to save the insurance firm's profits filed for bankruptcy and got it. The Blacks never won the amount of money they want to claim. Baylor and Schifflet never got the millions of attorney's fees they worked hard for. Nevertheless, the movie ends with a lesson that a truly worthy cause cannot be bought by any amount of money. Baylor did not get the huge amount he and Schifflet dreamed for but wins friends, respect and a good promising future in the legal profession. As icing on the cake, he also wins Kelly.
Matt Damon plays the role of Rudy Baylor. While some roles are tailor-made for an actor, Damon's case in The Rainmaker is different. He just naturally fits the role. He has no physical features that may grant him the usual star qualities according to the standards of Hollywood. His acting is not really as convincing as most other stars. However, in this particular film, Damon's acting fits the role perfectly. Baylor's character is that of freshman lawyer who is lacking in confidence while beset with