“The Judge” stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall as estranged son and father, Hank and Joseph “Judge” Palmer. Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong play Judge’s other two sons, who, unlike Hank, still live in the same small town as their father.
Hank must suddenly leave his successful Chicago defense attorney practice (and his much less successful marriage) to attend his mother’s funeral back in Indiana. Hank’s return to the family home is key to the dysfunction and mistrust that erupt when he shows up.
As happens in such coming home movies, Hank meets up with his past reputation and an old flame, and by the end of the film he is the better for facing both. But getting to that point is what makes or breaks such a film. Much of the action in this one takes place in the family home and in courtrooms. There is much truth telling, but there are tender moments as well.
Movie poster for ‘The Judge.’ Courtesy Reel Deal Theater
Downey and Duvall play to character; although we have seen each of them in these roles before, they are both superb here. What is more, the script, the editing, the music, the cast, the cinematography, and especially the film direction, make this film stand out. To date, it is definitely one of the best dramatic films of the year.
I highly recommend The Judge. It is rated “R”, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows the self-absorbed character Robert Downey, Jr., usually plays. And Duvall’s irascible Judge swears a lot, especially at his family members; even when we learn what’s going on with him, Judge’s language is hard to excuse.
But if such bad behavior on the screen can be endured, you will not be disappointed in this film.