The Pelican Brief

Published October 10, 2019

The Pelican Brief

Film info

  • Title The Pelican Brief
  • Director Alan J. Pakula
  • Year 1993
  • Run time 2hrs 21m
  • Genres Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Drama
  • Tagline One lone law student has stumbled upon the truth. An investigative journalist wants her story. Everybody else wants her dead.

Academy-Award winner Julia Roberts plays Darby Shaw who finds herself embroiled in a terrifying web of intrigue extending to the highest levels of government after she writes a speculative legal brief exposing the illegal activities of a powerful oil magnate. When those close to her are killed by assassins, the young woman embarks on a desperate flight with a Washington DC, investigative reporter (Academy Award and Golden Globe-winner Denzel Washington) her only confidant and ally.

Live blog

Time Comment
2:21 I’ve definitely read this but what are the chances I remember it?
4:21 “Never fails to amaze me what a man will do to get in the Oval Office.”
5:54 Wow, Stanley Tucci has a lot of hair.
10:58 Debate in class is great, I don’t think I’d have been any good at it though.
19:38 I like that she’s gone full detective for no apparent reason.
27:33 Someone who asks if he’s being traced, etc, isn’t going to give you his name, is he.
29:46 Ooh, he’s a sneaky journalist.
31:58 Amazing that some guy gave it to some other guy in a bar and now it’s in front of the president.
38:42 Just what you need is a big street party, and yet it somehow is just what she needs.
42:30 “Are you asking me to back off a suspect Mr President?” with such a knowing smile.
45:28 Oof to be suspicious of everyone.
51:11 Well, his life as a journalist is super mysterious, all these phone calls.
1:04:21 I thought she had seen him when she was looking out the window.
1:09:31 “Everyone I’ve told about the brief is dead.” “I’ll take my chances.”
1:13:47 That’s a really nice hotel room.
1:20:24 “If you disappear, so does justice.” No pressure or anything.
1:25:04 Cabin in the rain is the dream but… not in the scary woods.
1:30:20 Bird girl.
1:41:07 Dream team!
1:53:14 Oof, car bombing again. These people are the actual worst.
2:05:08 These are some smug face phone calls.
2:11:31 You can’t take off in a plane and then decide where to go. Flight plans are there for a reason.


This was a really good one. I’ve read the book but couldn’t remember anything about it so it was presented as a brand new thriller to me. Julia Roberts was excellent and I love Denzel so that was just a dream team of casting.

The story is Grisham at his best, although I have to admit to get a bit confused with the sheer volume of bad guys and there were a handful of questions I had at the end that they tried to explain but I still didn’t quite get.

Nevertheless, it was brilliant, the two hours flew by and now I want to read the book again.

Rating: 4 / 5

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