“If you make more money doing it than it costs to get caught for doing it, continue doing it.”
The above quote is the basis of THE DEVIL HAS A NAME. In this film, farmer Stern, brilliantly played by David Strathairn, discovers that his land is being poisoned by polluted water at the hands of Shore Oil and goes head to head with lead exec and film badass, Gigi (Kate Bosworth). Martin Sheen expertly and hilariously plays the lawyer who takes on the case and it seems very open and shut. Unfortunately for Stern, but very fortunate for the viewer, he gets more than he may have bargained for in this twisted dark comedy/drama.
There is an attempt to buy him off from a backstabbing acquaintance (Haley Joel Osment) and Stern finds himself and his best friend, a farm foreman, Santi (Edward James Olmos), threatened by a corporate bully played by Pablo Schreiber, and oh, how I loved to hate this guy! Will Stern win his case and get paid his due by Shore Oil or will he be another nobody crushed by a huge corporation and end up losing everything?
We are informed at the beginning of the film that it is based on true events. As the film progresses, it gets harder and harder to believe that this is so. The viewer is taken for a ride conducted by director Edward James Olmos (who wears many hats in this particular film) that seems to be the scenic route until we discover that we’re actually on the side of a mountain with no guardrail and could fall off at any moment. Villains end up being saviors who end up being psychotic. Harmless flies end up being killer bees who end up being squashed, and all this amidst courtroom drama, barfights, arson, and inconvenient bathroom breaks. The cast is flawless and the ending of the film did not disappoint.
After we laughed and cheered for the protagonists and leered and jeered at the antagonists and enjoyed the ride, we are reminded about the real harm done to the farmland throughout California’s Central Valley, where most of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables in the United States are grown. Oil companies continue to pollute the water that feeds this land and there is no end in sight. If you are interested in learning more about this real-life impact on our farmland and overall environment, you can visit Clean Water Action.
THE DEVIL HAS A NAME is fabulous and you can catch it in theater, On-Demand, and on Digital now!