Friday, October 24, 2014

THE JUDGE

Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall,
Vincent D'Onofrio, Vera Farmiga,
Billy Bob Thornton

"Defend Your Honor"


Brash city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is in a court room defending his client when he receives a call informing him about the demise of his mother. He returns to his hometown for the funeral and tries to reconnect with his brothers as well as with his father, a respected judge (Robert Duvall) with whom he has a strained relationship. 

While Hank's in town, the judge is accused of a crime (hit and run incident) so he reluctantly acts as his father's lawyer. As he discovers the truth about the complex case, father and son as expected constantly clash yet Hank struggles to remain focus on proving his father's innocence despite overwhelming evidence which point to the contrary.

Part courtroom drama, but mostly a family reconciliation drama, "The Judge" is a powerful portrayal of a highly poignant father and son relationship. Both of them trying to come to terms in finding a common ground with their principles, their pride and their profession.

Even though it sometimes feel like an episode of L.A. Law (yes, I know that was a long time ago!) or any TV show which features lawyers for that matter, the averagely predictable plot is buoyed by the top notch performances of Downey and Duvall. Their scenes together are the main draws of the film. The supporting cast are also good and their characters are well developed and multi-dimensional.

I'd like to add that I am glad to see Robert Downey, Jr in a meaty role that doesn't require him to don a superhero outfit. He has always been a good character actor even though he did dabble briefly in comedy and the rom-com genre, I prefer him in dramatic roles. He was perfectly suited for the cocky and abrasive Hank Palmer. I hope he is given the chance to show off more of his 'dramatic' side instead of just being stereotyped as a superhero figure - which can get old, really fast!

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