Akiva Goldsman, Robert Getchell
Arnon Milchan, Warner Bros. Studios
Warner Bros. Italia
Manlio De Angelis
Ugo Maria Morosi
Massimo De Ambrosis
Alec Baldwin (narrating voice):
Sergio Di Stefano
Grisham’s novels are always a guarantee of quality and cinematographic success. “The Client” is a winning, breathtaking legal thriller. Young Mark Sway and his smaller brother involuntarily assist the attempted suicide of a dangerous Memphis Mafia boss’s lawyer whom, before dying, reveals to Mark where the body of a senator is buried. Following the event little Ricky goes into post traumatic stress and is hospitalized. In the meantime Mark gets a lawyer to protect him from the FBI and above all from the Mafia. Lawyer Reggie Love helps him solve his problem, creating a special relationship with him. This bond is an essential part of the film: Mark plays the tough guy having created a shell behind which he hides his insecurities. Reggie has also suffered in the past: she was admitted to a clinic for alcoholics following her divorce from her husband who took their children. She sees in Mark her lost children and he sees in her a true friend.
Love, family, thriller, these are the ingredients for a truly successful film. The music is excellent as it perfectly follows the course of the story with apt melodies for moments of tension and for moments of tenderness.
The Italian edition is quite good. The dubbing direction is nearly always accurate and precise and the voices have been well chosen. Mark’s voice is excellent, raucous when he plays the tough guy and sweet when his emotions come through and Simone Crisari’s acting manages to follow all these moments. Small single flaws: some parts are not dubbed. During Muldano’s lawyer’s suicide: Mark and Ricky hide themselves and Mark covers the face of his younger brother trying, in vain, not to let him see or hear what’s going on. But the young brother, in the original version repeatedly yells “No!”. We don’t hear this in the Italian version. You can only hear the music and you can see the child’s wide open mouth from which however, no sound is emitted. It’s a pity because Ricky’s screams heighten the dramatic effect of the scene.
A little further on, when the policeman speaks with Mark at the hospital, threatening him with his brother if he didn’t tell him the truth there are lots of background voices. You can’t understand exactly what they’re saying but you do understand that they’re not talking in Italian. It would’ve been better to reinvent the background dialogue using typical hospital language, for example hospital orders and conversation between nurses.
Finally whilst Mark is in the boatyard to see if the senator’s body really is there there’s a conversation between him and Reggie telling him to come out in which you can only see the lip movement and you can’t hear anything else. However, also in the original version the actors don’t speak. It’s just that the American and British public are capable of lip reading in their own language, the Italian public is obviously not capable of lip reading English words.
As far as dialogue adaptation is concerned, that too has been done quite well. Elettra Caporello has managed to maintain the fast rhythm of the lines. A strong point of this film, in fact, are the accurate rich dialogues. The dialogue between Mark and the legal office secretary is marvelous and enjoyable, so much so that here it is: Devo vedere il Signor Bill. (I’ve got to see Mr. Bill) / Dove sono i tuoi genitori? (Where are your parents?)/ E i suoi dove sono? (Where are yours?)/ Almeno sei infortunato? (Are you at least injured?)/ Ma le sembro infortunato? (Do I look injured?)/ Noi trattiamo solo gente infortunata. (We only deal with injured people) / Bè, allora adesso vado a farmi investire e torno subito. (In that case I’ll just go and get knocked over and come back).
The linguistic choices are nearly always correct, only a few lines appear a little longer than the original.
Still on the linguistic side, “proverbial body” has been translated with “cadavere eccellente” which is an excellent translation. A false note however is found when Reggie talks with his brother about how much they would eat at their mothers. As a dessert they would have a “southern pecan”, translated with “torta di pecan” (pecan cake), which isn’t very clear because very few Italians would know that pecan is the American nut. A wrong stylistic choice is found towards the end of the film when Roy Foltrigg makes an imprisonment application for Mark. The lawyer says “Incarcerate his young ass tonight” and it has been translated with “Il ragazzo dev’essere in carcere stasera stessa” (the lad must be in prison this very night) which is lighter and more educated than the original line.
On the contrary, the translation of the proverbs in the film are very good. You hear Mamma Love say to Reggie “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?”, which is used when one talks about a person affirming what in truth could become the obvious. Rightly in Italian it has been translated with the proverb “il bue che dice cornuto all’asino” (the bull which says cuckold to the donkey). A little later on Reggie says “Elvis has left the building”, which isn’t really a proper proverb but a typical expression used in Louisiana and particularly in Memphis, Elvis’ homeland. This manner of speech originates from a line used by a radio broadcaster who tried to sedate the crowd which was assisting a program where Elvis was a guest. The conductor asks the people to return to their seats because “Elvis has left the building”. Since that day the line is used to intend that the show is over, that the curtains are up and that it’s time to go back to work. In Italy this would never have been understood which means that the adaptation “il principe torna al castello” (the prince returns to the castle) is a good one, even though it’s a pity that for the umpteenth time a line on Memphis is lost. The film constantly teases the people of Memphis with their obsession for Elvis. Finally, Reggie swears to tell the truth when answering Mark’s questions saying: “If it takes my skin off”, and it’s been adapted with “che potessi morire sennò” (I would rather die if not). Also in this case the manner of speech has been very well translated.
A distraction regards the word “mob” which means mafia. During the film, at times it’s been translated correctly, at others with the word “giudice” (judge) which is incorrect and doesn’t render the danger of the situation. The mistake is verified in the conversation between Reggie and Mark, in which the woman says to him that if he does not say the truth “Né il giudice né l’FBI saranno contenti” (neither the judge nor the FBI will be pleased). But the sense was different because if the judge isn’t satisfied with his answers he would’ve been sent to prison whereas if the Mafia wasn’t satisfied with his answers (as in the original) they would kill him.
However the set up of the dialogues and the inaccuracies in the dubbing direction aren’t major mistakes (the majority of the spectators didn’t even notice) and they don’t create any damage to the excellent job done by Joel Schumacher and by the screenwriters Goldman and Getchell who wrote the intense winning dialogues.
[original review in Italian by Alessandra Basile]