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"She is a reminder that inner strength results in outer strength and can lead to wonderful outcomes."
Raymond Teague is the author of Reel
Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
He is an award-winning
His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above.
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews
She hasn't been to either charm school or law school, but Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts, is naturally learned in the subject of caring.
Erin is a person who cares about others. She also cares enough about herself to work for respect from others. As a result, Erin qualifies as a Reel Spirit woman because her character (language aside) and her accomplishments are inspiring.
Inspiring people don't have to be saints or sages, have religious degrees, or be sports or movie stars. Quite often they are the girl or boy next door, the average Joe or Josephine in the mall, or someone in your own family who reaches out and makes others look up. Inspirational people come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds.
Eric Brockovich is based quite faithfully on a true story. Erin is a twice-divorced mother of three who is scraping the bottom of finances and job possibilities when she bullies herself into a file job in a Los Angeles law firm. It is there she discovers that Pacific Gas & Electric has not been truthful to the residents of Hinkley about its use of hexavalent chromium at a nearby plant.
Many residents have contracted cancer and other illnesses at an alarming rate, which Erin determines is a result of the chromium in the small community's ground water.
The brash, outspoken Erin is incensed. "I know the difference between right and wrong," she declares. Her boss, attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney), likens the case not just to David versus Goliath, but to David versus Goliath's whole family. Unable to resist Erin's determination, Masry agrees to pursue the case against the powerful utility company.
Erin empathizes with the families stricken by the chromium poisonings, and she reaches out to the adults and children with her own love and concern, as she continues to research their case for the courts. In helping the 634 plaintiffs, Erin virtually gives up her own personal life and family life.
While she loves her own children and makes sure that they are properly cared for, Erin focuses on the greater good for the greatest number.
Erin's is a real situation already familiar in such films as Schindler's List and The Insider -- stories of individuals who sacrificed themselves out of loving service to humanity. Erin's concern for others -- resulting in a record-breaking $333 million settlement to the plaintiffs -- is not only admirable but inspiring because she clearly shows that individuals can make a difference in society.
Erin is also an inspiring and empowering example because she refuses to allow herself to be the victim of anything that lessens her own self-esteem and the respect that others have for her accomplishments. She is a reminder that inner strength results in outer strength and can lead to wonderful outcomes.
Disregard her language and appreciate Erin for the difference she has made in the world.